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  1. Standard member wittywonka
    Chocolate Expert
    24 Mar '11 03:34
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/judicial/2011-03-24-court24_ST_N.htm

    WASHINGTON — How easy is it for police or judges to put themselves in the
    mind of a 13-year-old student whom an officer pulled from class and took to a
    closed room for questioning about stolen goods?

    The Supreme Court is divided over whether age should be considered in how
    police conduct questioning.

    In an important test of the constitutional rights of juveniles at the Supreme Court
    on Wednesday, the question was whether law enforcement officials would know if
    the youth felt free to leave the room or not respond to questions.

    The answer is crucial because if the suspect believes he is in custody, police are
    required to read him his Miranda rights, informing him he has a right to remain
    silent and that anything he says can be used against him.

    "Let's take a hypothetical trial judge who is 60 years old and has an IQ that's at
    least average," Justice Samuel Alito posed. "You're asking this trial judge to decide
    whether ... say, a 14-year-old with an IQ of 85 would (believe) that he or she was
    free to leave?"

    Alito said such exercise would take "greater imaginative powers" than he had.

    During an hour of arguments that revealed the court's ideological split, Alito
    suggested that neither police, nor judges reviewing their actions, need consider a
    suspect's age.

    Justice Elena Kagan differed sharply, asking, "Do we need either imaginative
    powers or empirical data to know that when a 13-year-old is brought into a room
    in his school, taken out of class, four people are there ... that that person is not
    going to feel free to take off and leave?"

    "Well," Alito said a few beats later, "sympathetic cases make bad law."

    The case testing constitutional protection against self-incrimination could affect
    myriad situations in which police question youths outside a station house or
    elsewhere before an arrest.

    The dispute began in Chapel Hill, N.C., in 2005 when seventh-grader J.D.B., as he
    is identified in court filings, was taken from class by a police investigator to a
    conference room for questioning. An assistant principal and two other school
    employees were also there.

    J.D.B. had been seen near two homes that had been broken into; a camera,
    cellphone and jewelry were among items missing. Under questioning, he said he
    had taken some of the items.

    Lawyers for J.D.B., who was charged with one count of breaking and entering and
    one count of larceny, sought to keep his statements from being used against him
    because he had not been read his rights.

    A trial judge denied the defense lawyers' motion, saying J.D.B. was not in custody
    when he was interrogated at the school.

    On appeal Wednesday, J.D.B's lawyer, Barbara Blackman, said judges must weigh
    a juvenile's age to decide whether he was effectively "in custody" for the
    interrogation, to ensure that a young person was not coerced into a confession.

    North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper countered that judges traditionally
    look at how a "reasonable person" would view the situation, and considering age
    would fundamentally change the law and provide "no logical stopping point for
    adding other characteristics."

    Justice Antonin Scalia, who appeared to be in the conservative camp with Alito,
    agreed, asking, "If age should be one of the factors, deciding whether the
    individual regarded himself as in custody or not, why shouldn't mental deficiency
    be so as well?"

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined Kagan in emphasizing the relevance of a young
    age: "Just as a matter of common sense, how can you say that we're going to
    have the same test for this 8-year-old as we would for the 30-year-old?"

    Justice Stephen Breyer asked why an officer wouldn't simply err on the side of
    telling the suspect he was free to leave or giving the Miranda warning.

    "Well, he might not want him to go," Cooper answered, adding that officers have
    an interest in getting suspects to talk.

    The federal Justice Department has sided with North Carolina, as have 30
    states. "Police are ill-equipped to make snap assessments as to how age ... will
    impact a person's belief that he is free to leave," the states say in a brief.

    Among those siding with J.D.B. is the Juvenile Law Center, which argues that
    ignoring a suspect's age "would subject scores of youth to interrogations they
    neither wish to participate in nor fully understand ... but cannot, because of their
    age, terminate or leave." The group said youths are more likely than adults to
    make false confessions.

    A ruling in J.D.B. v. North Carolina is likely by late June.


    Especially if the principal was present during the interrogation, I could see how a
    student wouldn't have realized his right not to comply. Then again, I wouldn't say
    I feel ready to defend any sort of precedent handed down here that would
    extrapolate to other instances.
  2. Subscriber FMF
    a.k.a. John W Booth
    24 Mar '11 12:09
    Why didn't the police call the 13-year-old student's parents and wait for them to arrive before pulling him/her from class?
  3. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    24 Mar '11 13:16
    Originally posted by FMF
    Why didn't the police call the 13-year-old student's parents and wait for them to arrive before pulling him/her from class?
    Obviously, because they wanted a confession.


    But this case deals with an interesting issue. The child certainly would have had to have been Mirandized (and perhaps they'd have had to call his parents) before he was detained. In this case, he was not detained, but merely questions.

    The issue is whether a reasonable person would have thought he was detained. If so, then it's a detention, requiring Miranda warnings, etc. In this case, the questions is whether you use a "one size fits all" standard in terms of whether a reasonable person would have thought he were detained or do you have to evaluate it based on objective factors such as age and subjective factors such as intelligence.

    Personally, I'd be in favor of taking factors such as age into account. But when you start getting into questions about how socially aware this particular person was, you make it impossible to get a consistent application of the rule.

    This is an interesting issue. I'll look forward to the 5-4 decision (with Kennedy breaking the tie one way or the other, of course).
  4. 24 Mar '11 16:10
    Originally posted by sh76
    Obviously, because they wanted a confession.


    But this case deals with an interesting issue. The child certainly would have had to have been Mirandized (and perhaps they'd have had to call his parents) before he was detained. In this case, he was not detained, but merely questions.

    The issue is whether a reasonable person would have thought he was detain ...[text shortened]... rward to the 5-4 decision (with Kennedy breaking the tie one way or the other, of course).
    I think it's perfectly reasonable to evaluate it based on age and even intelligence.

    I find the defense that they wanted a confession to be more than a little weak. Of course they wanted a confession - I'm sure they want a confession in every case.

    Why did they beat the guy over the head with a billy club? Well, they wanted a confession! I know that's extreme, but I don't think wanting a confession is an excuse for really anything.
  5. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    24 Mar '11 17:52
    Originally posted by PsychoPawn
    I think it's perfectly reasonable to evaluate it based on age and even intelligence.

    I find the defense that they wanted a confession to be more than a little weak. Of course they wanted a confession - I'm sure they want a confession in every case.

    Why did they beat the guy over the head with a billy club? Well, they wanted a confession! I know that's extreme, but I don't think wanting a confession is an excuse for really anything.
    I didn't say that they wanted a confession was a "defense" but merely the reason they did what they did.
  6. 24 Mar '11 17:59
    Originally posted by sh76
    I didn't say that they wanted a confession was a "defense" but merely the reason they did what they did.
    True. It just doesn't seem to be a good reason... that's all.

    Justice Stephen Breyer asked why an officer wouldn't simply err on the side of
    telling the suspect he was free to leave or giving the Miranda warning.

    "Well, he might not want him to go," Cooper answered, adding that officers have
    an interest in getting suspects to talk.


    I was struck by this part of the article. "He might not want him to go" is a pretty horrible argument for not erring on the side of caution when it comes to someone's rights.
  7. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    24 Mar '11 23:49
    Originally posted by PsychoPawn
    True. It just doesn't seem to be a good reason... that's all.

    Justice Stephen Breyer asked why an officer wouldn't simply err on the side of
    telling the suspect he was free to leave or giving the Miranda warning.

    "Well, he might not want him to go," Cooper answered, adding that officers have
    an interest in getting suspects to talk.


    I wa ...[text shortened]... rrible argument for not erring on the side of caution when it comes to someone's rights.
    Police can't simply always decide to "err" on the side of protecting suspects' rights. They're in the business of solving crimes. They have to try to strike the balance and walk the fine line.
  8. Standard member wittywonka
    Chocolate Expert
    25 Mar '11 03:58
    Originally posted by sh76
    Police can't simply always decide to "err" on the side of protecting suspects' rights. They're in the business of solving crimes. They have to try to strike the balance and walk the fine line.
    So then "innocent until proven guilty" only applies to juries?
  9. 27 Mar '11 00:24
    Down with Miranda!
  10. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    27 Mar '11 02:21
    Originally posted by wittywonka
    So then "innocent until proven guilty" only applies to juries?
    Police officers don't decide guilt or innocence. They investigate crime and try to gather enough evidence to try the alleged offender. One is entitled to a presumption of innocence, not a presumption of not being investigated.
  11. Subscriber no1marauder
    It's Nice to Be Nice
    27 Mar '11 15:01 / 3 edits
    Originally posted by wittywonka
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/judicial/2011-03-24-court24_ST_N.htm

    [/i]WASHINGTON — How easy is it for police or judges to put themselves in the
    mind of a 13-year-old student whom an officer pulled from class and took to a
    closed room for questioning about stolen goods?

    The Supreme Court is divided over whether age should be considered in down here that would
    extrapolate to other instances.
    A judge of average intelligence (boy I wish there were more of those) would really have that difficult of a time figuring out that a 13 year old kid taken out of class (where he has to be) and put into a closed room with police officers wouldn't think he was free to go wherever he wanted?

    The way conservative judges attempt to gut us of our Natural Rights by such contrived reasoning and cramped view of the same is truly appalling.
  12. 28 Mar '11 08:27
    Originally posted by no1marauder
    A judge of average intelligence (boy I wish there were more of those) would really have that difficult of a time figuring out that a 13 year old kid taken out of class (where he has to be) and put into a closed room with police officers wouldn't think he was free to go wherever he wanted?

    The way conservative judges attempt to gut us of our Natural Rights by such contrived reasoning and cramped view of the same is truly appalling.
    Indeed, Sickening the "reasoning" that can be used to justify this sort of crap.
  13. 28 Mar '11 23:20
    If this had happened to my 13-year-old, I'd be a wealthy man at this time.
  14. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    29 Mar '11 12:40
    Originally posted by PinkFloyd
    If this had happened to my 13-year-old, I'd be a wealthy man at this time.
    Unless you hit the lottery, no you wouldn't.

    People love to underestimate the difficulty of winning money in a lawsuit. Just because some broad in Arizona won a few hundred grand spilling coffee on her lap doesn't mean anyone can just win a lawsuit for anything against anyone.
  15. 15 Apr '11 07:37
    Originally posted by sh76
    Unless you hit the lottery, no you wouldn't.

    People love to underestimate the difficulty of winning money in a lawsuit. Just because some broad in Arizona won a few hundred grand spilling coffee on her lap doesn't mean anyone can just win a lawsuit for anything against anyone.
    Perhaps you haven't seen the awards given by juries in the great state of South Carolina. An employee of a Fast Fare (7-11 equivalent) was fired for stealing money. When proven that the employee did NOT steal the money, civil and criminal charges, including punitive damages came to over 80 M (with an MMMMM) Million dollars awards to that poor unfortunate 19 year old. My brother sat on the jury and I felt like celebrating. It does happen, thank goodness.