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Miranda Warnings: On the Internet, No One Knows you’re A Police Detective


Right to Counsel and the Right to Remain Silent AND the Importance of Reading the Full Case

There are no shortcuts to thorough legal research:

The Oregon Court of Appeals OJD Media Release summary ( 3/3/10), says this, which is concise and perfectly accurate:

State of Oregon, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. John Richard Davis, Defendant-Respondent. Wollheim, P. J.

The trial court granted defendant’s motion to suppress because, after the police officer received notice that defendant invoked his right to remain silent under Article I, section 12, of the Oregon Constitution, the officer employed an agent to further question defendant. The state appeals, arguing that defendant’s invocation did not implicate any constitutional right to remain silent when defendant was not in a compelling setting.

Held: When a person, not in a compelling setting, unequivocally invokes the right to remain silent as to an ongoing investigation conducted by a police officer, and the officer is personally aware of the invocation, any evidence that is obtained by the police officer in violation of the person’s invocation must be suppressed. Affirmed.”

But if you don’t follow through and read the full case, you miss important details, not to mention the interesting stuff. Here’s a link to and excerpts from the full case:

State v. John Richard Davis (A138968), filed 3/3/10 (Oregon Court of Appeals)

“…. We ultimately conclude that the police officer’s “pretext communications” violated defendant’s right to remain silent. However, we start by explaining the policies behind the right to counsel to set context for the right to remain silent. We do that because those two constitutional rights are interrelated….

Here, defendant’s attorney unequivocally invoked defendant’s right to remain silent by sending the detective a letter. The invocation was specific to the detective’s investigation into allegations that defendant had sexually abused his stepdaughter. By the letter that defendant’s attorney mailed, the detective personally knew that defendant invoked his right to remain silent. The letter, by itself, did nothing to prevent or stop the detective from lawfully conducting the investigation. In fact, the detective lawfully continued the investigation for eight months after receiving the letter. However, once the detective decided to contact defendant, the letter served to limit the means by which the detective could make contact. The detective could contact defendant through his counsel. Instead, the detective obtained computer software to communicate with defendant and recruited the stepdaughter to make the “pretext communications” with defendant. The stepdaughter agreed and acted as the detective’s agent. See State v. Smith, 310 Or 1, 13, 791 P2d 836 (1990) (“[I]f the police were directly or indirectly involved to a sufficient extent in initiating, planning, controlling or supporting [the informant’s] activities, the exclusionary protection would apply.”). Then, the detective communicated with defendant, through the stepdaughter, for the purpose of conducting the investigation. On those facts, the detective’s actions violated defendant’s constitutional right to remain silent under Article I, section 12.(4)

Accordingly, the trial court did not err in granting defendant’s motion to suppress statements that the state obtained while subverting defendant’s right to remain silent.(5)

Affirmed.” (Link to full case)

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