Thursday, December 15, 2011

Miranda Waivers

In Comm. v. Hoyt, decided today, the SJC determined that an invocation of Miranda rights was unequivocal in the following exchange:
EASON: "This right here states that you understood everything I just read to you. Having these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to us now?"
DEFENDANT: "I'd like an attorney present. I mean but I can't afford one. So I guess I'll just speak to you now. I don't have an attorney."
EASON: "Okay. If you want to speak to us later, that's fine as well. I mean but we're not, you know, we don't get you an attorney, we can let you use a phone book and stuff like that, but it's up to you."
DEFENDANT: "I'll just talk to you now."
EASON: "Okay."
STROUT: "Roy, I just want to make it clear. You want to talk to us now, and you don't want an attorney?"
DEFENDANT: "Uh, I'd have to wait here until an attorney came right?"
STROUT: "You can ... we can let you use the phone and the phone book to call an attorney. I can't tell you if they're gonna come here, I don't know what they would do."
DEFENDANT: "I'll just talk to you without an attorney." 
The court stated: "In these circumstances, the statement "I'd like an attorney present," in response to the question, "Do you wish to speak to us now?," was an unambiguous invocation of the defendant's right to counsel."

Further, "the defendant not only demonstrated a desire to invoke his right to appointed counsel, but also showed a clear ignorance of the meaning of that right. Any arguable ambiguity in the defendant's invocation was a product of this fundamental misunderstanding of his right to appointed counsel." Therefore, the waiver of the right to counsel could not have been voluntary or knowing.