Thursday, March 13, 2008

Is You Is, Or Is You Ain't My Lawyer?

State v. Parker, no. 05-0588 (Iowa Feb. 8, 2008)
Parker was convicted in Dubuque County of second degree robbery of a bank and sentenced as an habitual offender.

Parker left the premises in a blue Chevrolet, and as a bank customer tried to follow him, he was blocked by a Blazer driven by Inger Hall-Smith, who removed the keys from her vehicle and exited it. Police stopped Hall-Smith a few moments later and discovered rubber gloves in her vehicle. She described the day's events as a bank robbery even though it had not been referred to as such by police.

The blue Chevrolet was found abandoned outside town on a farm.

Six weeks later Parker arrived at the home of James Hall, Inger Hall-Smith's brother, who was an attorney. Hall knew Parker and also knew that his sister had been arrested for her role in the case. Parker made incriminating statements to Hall during the course of the evening. Hall left his house the next morning and informed police of Parker's presence in his home.

Parker attempted to suppress the statements he had made to Hall incriminating himself, asserting that they were protected by attorney client privilege.

The district court disagreed, finding that no attorney client relationship existed because Parker did not go to Hall's residence to obtain legal assistance and never indicated to police that he was represented by Hall. For his part, Hall never thought there was a relationship, as evidenced by his going to police to report Parker's presence in his home.

The Court of Appeals had reversed Parker's robbery conviction but the Supreme Court found that the error was harmless and affirmed the district court.


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