State v. Brown

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 02-03-2016
  • Case #: A156289
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Devore, J. for the Court; Duncan, P.J.; and Flynn, J.

In a criminal investigation, when a suspect makes an "equivocal request for counsel," police act within the confines of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution when they continue interrogation without asking clarifying questions.

Defendant was arrested on suspicion of murder. During an interview with police, Defendant made inculpatory statements to the police, some of which were not suppressed. Defendant was charged with and convicted of murder with a firearm and two other charges. Defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred by partially denying his motion to suppress certain inculpatory statements he made, which, he argued, violated his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. The statements in question all pertained to Defendant’s retention of counsel. The issue before the Court was whether these statements were considered an “equivocal request for a lawyer,” as a statement such as this would allow police to continue questioning without asking clarifying questions. Defendant argued that the statements were a repeated and unequivocal request for the assistance of a lawyer. The Court found that the statements Defendant made could have been interpreted by a reasonable officer to not constitute Defendant invoking his right to counsel, and that the statements made were therefore equivocal, and therefore held that the trial court was correct to only partially suppress Defendant’s inculpatory statements. Affirmed.

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