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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. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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