X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Criminal suspects wanting a lawyer had better be loud and clear. On Monday, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that requests for representation during police interrogations cannot be ambiguous or equivocal. “The question is not what defendant understood himself to be saying,” Justice Carlos Moreno wrote, “but what a reasonable officer in the circumstances would have understood defendant to be saying.” The case was brought by Catarino Gonzalez Jr., who was sentenced to life in prison for murdering Los Angeles police officer Filbert Cuesta and attempting to kill officer Richard Gabaldon in 1998. During interrogations at which Gonzalez confessed, he told detectives: “If for anything you guys are going to charge me, I want to talk to a public defender, too, for any little thing.” Los Angeles’ Second District Court of Appeal ruled in 2003 that Gonzalez’s statement was a sufficiently clear request for counsel, and that detectives should have either stopped questioning him or clarified his intent. The high court disagreed, saying that based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1994 ruling in Davis v. United States, 512 U.S. 452, Gonzalez’s statement was too ambiguous to place the officers on alert that he had invoked his Miranda rights. “In the circumstances of this case,” Moreno wrote, “we conclude that a reasonable officer could have understood that defendant’s reference to a public defender if he was charged was not an unequivocal request for counsel at that moment.” A reasonable officer, he continued, “would have understood only that ‘the suspect might be invoking the right to counsel,’ which is insufficient under Davis to require cessation of questioning.” Ojai lawyer Sylvia Beckham, who represented Gonzalez, couldn’t be reached for comment. L.A.-based Deputy Attorney General James “Bill” Bilderback II said he was gratified by the court’s ruling, which he called a clarification, not a groundbreaker. The decision, he said, will be most useful for “real police officers interrogating real people.” The decision is People v. Gonzalez, 05 C.D.O.S. 672.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.