Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Interesting decision. Apparently, as part of its interrogation of a suspect the Queen's DA's office told a guy awaiting arraignment that they would "investigate his side of the story." They didn't do it (it looks like this was a regular practice, so I guess they never did it, and never intended to), and now Justice Joel Blumenfeld has held that the practice is unethical and precluded the use of the defendant's trial as a sanction. What makes this unusual is that the sanction is different technically from suppressing the statement. Because it is an ethics sanction the DA may not be able to take an appeal.

As of mid-February, the district attorney's office said that 9,382 suspects have been asked since 2007 if they wished to be interviewed. Three quarters of the suspects agreed to talk without a lawyer present. No questioning was conducted of those who invoked their Miranda rights.

Confessions were received from 20 percent of those who were asked to be interviewed. In addition, according to data current through the end of January, the prosecutors at the interviews did not press charges against 84 suspects because they were convinced by the suspects' statements and/or demeanor that they were actually innocent.

This strikes me as a sleazy practice, born out of the need to process a large volume of cases. The defendant in this particular case got real lucky, I think: that's some good lawyering on his counsel's part, and all over $300 bucks and an iPod. Probably an iPod Shuffle.

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