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Miranda – “Interrogation”

State v. Randy L. Martin, 2010AP505-CR, District 1, 5/3/11

court of appeals decision (3-judge, not recommended for publication), reversed, 2012 WI 96; for Martin: Byron C. Lichstein; case activity

Although Martin was in custody and had not received Miranda warnings, his statement wasn’t the result of “interrogation” and therefore wasn’t suppressible. When it appeared that Martin’s uncle was going to be arrested for possessing a gun found in their car, Martin asked if they would let the uncle go if Martin said the gun was his. The officer responded, ““I don’t want you to say it’s yours if its not.  I just want the truth, is the gun yours.” Martin the said, “yeah, it’s mine if you let my uncle go.” The officer’s remark wasn’t the “functional equivalent” of interrogation, because it “was aimed not at interrogation, but instead, at preventing a false confession,” ¶19. State v. Bond, 2000 WI App 118, ¶15, 237 Wis. 2d 633, 614 N.W.2d 552, distinguished (id.):

¶20      Moreover, Bond, which Martin analogizes to the facts of his case, is distinguishable from the facts at issue here.  Unlike Officer Smith in the case before us, the officer whose comments were at issue in Bond “drew force” from his “‘specific knowledge’” of the defendant and the defendant’s vernacular and was accordingly able to “utilize a ‘particular form’ of speech” to elicit the defendant’s incriminating response without directly questioning him.  See id., 237 Wis. 2d 633, ¶¶17, 19; see also id., ¶5 (describing the context of the conversation between defendant and police found to have violated the defendant’s Fifth Amendment rights under Miranda).  The officer’s comments in Bond were consequently held to have been designed to compel an incriminating response.  Id., ¶18.  Thus, in Bond, the “evils addressed by Miranda,” see Cunningham, 144 Wis. 2d at 280, were a central factor in the court’s analysis, whereas in Martin’s case the absence of impropriety on the officer’s part compels a different result.

State v. Fischer, 2003 WI App 5, ¶21, 259 Wis. 2d 799, 656 N.W.2d 503, followed:

¶22      In Fischer, this Court concluded that the officer’s answers to Fischer’s questions, even when they resulted in incriminating responses, were not “the functional equivalent of interrogation” for Miranda purposes.  Fischer, 259 Wis. 2d 799, ¶41.  As in Martin’s case before us, the Fischer court found persuasive the fact that there was “nothing in the record to indicate that the detectives had any specific knowledge of Fischer or of any unusual susceptibility to questioning he might have had.”  See id., ¶29.  Like the case before us, the exchange consisted of the defendant asking questions, and the detectives responding to those questions, at which point the defendant would implicate himself.  See id., ¶33.  Also, as in the case before us, the Fischer court was mindful of “the purpose of Miranda and Innis,” which is to “prevent law enforcement officers from using the coercive nature of confinement to extract confessions that would not be given in an unrestrained environment.”  Id., ¶35.  As in Martin’s case, the conduct and words at issue did not implicate this purpose.  See id.

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