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‘Am I going to need an attorney?’ is not request for attorney, rules COA

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A suspect’s question during interrogation as to whether he’d need an attorney is not considered a request for an attorney, thus requiring police to stop interrogating him, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

In Jason King v. State of Indiana, 64A04-1209-CR-464, Jason King appealed his conviction and 45-year sentence for attempted murder after shooting Woodrow McGuire in the jaw at a nightclub. He claimed that during an interrogation, he asked for an attorney, but police kept questioning him.

During a recorded interrogation regarding the crime, King uttered the words, “an attorney,” in a sentence otherwise inaudible on the recording. The interrogating officer continued to question King, and he eventually confessed to shooting McGuire.

King testified that the inaudible sentence was, “I do need to make a call to call an attorney.” The interrogating officer testified that King asked, “Am I going to need an attorney?” The trial court found the officer’s testimony as to what was said was more likely than what King claimed he said.

The state presented the jury with the testimony of the interrogating officer, who stated that King confessed to shooting McGuire during the interrogation. King did not object to the admission of this evidence.

The Court of Appeals upheld King’s conviction and sentence, believing the trial court’s finding is supported on the record. The trial court reviewed the recording and the testimony of the two men to conclude: “The speech before the words [‘]an attorney[’] is more consistent with [‘]am I going to need an attorney[’] than a longer phrase, which is, [‘]I do need to make a call to call an attorney.[’]”

Because King didn’t object to the officer’s testimony at trial, he waived the issue that his confession should have been suppressed. But waiver notwithstanding, the COA concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that King did not request an attorney at the 1:02 mark of the second interrogation.

“King’s question, ‘Am I going to need an attorney?’ does not rise to the level of clarity from which a reasonable officer would understand that an attorney has been requested,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote.

The judges also upheld the 45-year sentence, which they found appropriate given the troubling reasons cited as to why King shot McGuire: because the victim was black and leaning on King at a bar.
 

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  1. Major social engineering imposed by judicial order well in advance of democratic change, has been the story of the whole post ww2 period. Contraception, desegregation, abortion, gay marriage: all rammed down the throats of Americans who didn't vote to change existing laws on any such thing, by the unelected lifetime tenure Supreme court heirarchs. Maybe people came to accept those things once imposed upon them, but, that's accommodation not acceptance; and surely not democracy. So let's quit lying to the kids telling them this is a democracy. Some sort of oligarchy, but no democracy that's for sure, and it never was. A bourgeois republic from day one.

  2. JD Massur, yes, brings to mind a similar stand at a Texas Mission in 1836. Or Vladivostok in 1918. As you seemingly gloat, to the victors go the spoils ... let the looting begin, right?

  3. I always wondered why high fence deer hunting was frowned upon? I guess you need to keep the population steady. If you don't, no one can enjoy hunting! Thanks for the post! Fence

  4. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  5. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

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