X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Authorities suspected Milton Dwayne Gobert of committing the murder for which they later indicted him. Before the indictment happened, they arrested Gobert for a parole violation and for the assault of a woman named Christine or Christina. Following his arrest, Gobert was questioned by Austin detectives named Burgh and Scanlon. Burgh began the interview by advising Gobert of his constitutional and statutory rights under Miranda and Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 38.22, ��2, 3. Asked if he understood his rights, Gobert replied that he did and then said, “I don’t want to give up any right, though, if I don’t got no lawyer.” Scanlon immediately asked, “You don’t want to talk?” The question was repeated by Burgh, “You don’t want to talk to us?” Gobert answered, “I mean, I’ll talk to y’all. I mean, I know, you know, what she had said about it, you know. I’ll speak with y’all, but (inaudible), man. I mean, I’ll speak with y’all, you know.” Scanlon then said, “Okay, signing this � signing this is not giving up your right. Signing this is acknowledging that this was read to you.” He then added, “Okay? Your choice to talk to us is different. This � all this is, is acknowledging that you were warned.” Burgh then began to question Gobert regarding his relationship with Christina. Scanlon interrupted to ask, “I want to clear something up, though, because earlier you said you don’t want to give up your right to a lawyer. I want you � I want you � I want to clear up the fact that you want to talk to us about this. Okay? You understand what I’m saying?” Gobert answered, “Yeah.” Scanlon continued, “I want to clear it up. I mean, that’s � that’s what you want to do, right?” Gobert again answered, “Yeah.” The interrogation continued for several hours and ultimately resulted in Gobert confessing to the murder of Mel Kernena Cotton. At issue is Gobert’s statement, “I don’t want to give up any right, though, if I don’t got no lawyer.” The trial court concluded that this was an unequivocal invocation of the right to counsel during questioning and granted Gobert’s motion to suppress his confession. HOLDING:Reversed and remanded. In its original opinion, the 3rd Court affirmed the court’s order. Upon reconsideration pursuant to Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 50, however, the 3rd Court concluded that the district court erred by granting the motion to suppress. To effectuate the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, the court stated, a suspect has the right to consult with an attorney and to have counsel present during custodial interrogation, and police must explain this right to the suspect before questioning begins. When a suspect asserts his right to counsel, all interrogation must cease until counsel is provided or until the suspect personally reinitiates the conversation. The suspect’s request for counsel must be unambiguous, the court stated. If the suspect makes an ambiguous or equivocal reference to an attorney, questioning need not cease, the court stated. Although the question presented was “a close one,” the court concluded that Gobert’s statement that “I don’t want to give up any right, though, if I don’t got no lawyer” was not an invocation of his right to an attorney. It was unclear what Gobert was trying to convey, the court stated, when he made the statement, but “it is clear that the statement is not an unequivocal request for counsel.” Gobert’s statement, the court stated, may have clearly conveyed the idea that he did not have a present intent to “give up any right,” but it was not a request for counsel so as to halt further interrogation by the officers. The word “lawyer” appeared in the statement, but not in any manner that could reasonably be interpreted as expressing a desire for the assistance of counsel or to speak to an attorney. At the very most, the court stated that Gobert’s statement to the officers was an equivocal and ambiguous statement that Gobert might want to invoke his right to counsel. The officers, by immediately seeking to clarify the meaning of Gobert’s statement, “did all that we should expect them to do,” the court stated. OPINION:Puryear, J.; Law, C.J., and Puryear, J. DISSENT:Patterson, J., dissented without an opinion.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 3 articles* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?

 
 

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.