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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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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