Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

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This compendium includes significant criminal cases by the U.S. Supreme Court & N.C. appellate courts, Nov. 2008 – Present. Selected 4th Circuit cases also are included.

Jessica Smith prepared case summaries Nov. 2008-June 4, 2019; later summaries are prepared by other School staff.

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E.g., 10/18/2021
E.g., 10/18/2021

After waiving his right to counsel the defendant did not unambiguously ask to speak a lawyer. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that he made a clear request for counsel. It concluded: “Defendant never expressed a clear desire to speak with an attorney. Rather, he appears to have been seeking clarification regarding whether he had a right to speak with an attorney before answering any of the detective’s questions.” The court added: “There is a distinct difference between inquiring whether one has the right to counsel and actually requesting counsel. Once defendant was informed that it was his decision whether to invoke the right to counsel, he opted not to exercise that right.”

When the defendant asked, “Do I need an attorney?” the officer responded, “are you asking for one?” The defendant failed to respond and continued telling the officer about the shooting. The defendant did not unambiguously request a lawyer.

The defendant’s statement, “I’m probably gonna have to have a lawyer,” was not an invocation of his right to counsel. The defendant had already expressed a desire to tell his side of the story and was asked to wait until they got to the station. Notwithstanding this, he gave a brief unsolicited statement to one officer while en route to the station, and this statement was relayed to the questioning officer. The questioning officer reasonably expected the defendant to continue their former conversation and proceed with the statement he apparently wished to make. Thus, when the defendant made the remark, the officer was understandably unsure of the defendant’s purpose, and followed up with an attempt to clarify the defendant’s intentions, at which point the defendant agreed to talk.

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