Thursday, October 15, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Drunks: The falling down Miranda exception.

State v. Cue, 08-1596 (Iowa Ct. App. October 7, 2009)

Cue was implicated in the stabbing death of one Rodney Deville. Cue was interviewed by a Council Bluffs police operative while he was sitting at the curb in an inebriated state. Cue was not arrested or Mirandized, and gave statements in which he incriminated himself. He then voluntarily went to the Omaha police station, and gave further admissions and requested counsel in a chaotic one hour interview that ended with Cue being arrested and charged with the murder of Deville.

Cue moved to suppress his statements, and the district court agreed to suppress the audio tapes of his statements both on the street and at the Omaha police station.

The state appealed, arguing that Cue was not under arrest or in custody in either location, and that he had been adequately Mirandized at the police station.

The court first found that because the first statements were given when Cue was so inebriated he could not sit up without assistance and was thus unable to walk away from the interview.* Cue was asked specific questions about the murder and his involvement in it. The officer admitted that Cue was not free to leave the scene although he probably did not know that.

(Parenthetically, this is the first time that I've ever heard that the inability to leave the interview-which is the sine qua non of a custodial interrogation-could be supplied because the defendant himself had rendered himself physically unable to do so. Is this the 'falling down drunk exception to the mobility prong of Miranda? But nevermind.)

The court next found that Cue was in custody at the police station and was never told he was free to leave. He asked to see a lawyer and no move was made to honor his assertions.

Folks, this is not a case about a nickel bag of weed. It's a homicide. A man died, for crying out loud.

If you are in doubt, give the warnings, tell the skel he can leave at any time, and get that over with up front. Chances are the guy will forget all about it and you can go on your way rejoicing, as the saying goes.

Will the state seek further review? You betcha, as Mrs. Palin says.


Post a Comment

<< Home