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Arrest — Test for Custody — Dunaway v. New York

A.M. v. Butler, 360 F3d 787 (7th Cir. No. 2004)


We see no meaningful distinction between Dunaway and this case. Like the defendant in Dunaway, Morgan was taken directly to an interrogation room in the police station. He was never told he was free to go. Cassidy, moreover, testified that he would not have allowed Morgan to leave even if Morgan said he wanted to go home. In fact, the only significant difference here is that, while Dunaway was an adult, Morgan was, at best, a sixth-grader. …

The Illinois court’s conclusion that Morgan was not under arrest was also objectively unreasonable. … The court did not mention that Morgan was alone, his age, his prior inexperience with the criminal justice system, or the fact that the interrogation took place in a closed police room. Nor did it acknowledge that Morgan was dependent on the police for transportation home, and Cassidy testified that he would not have let Morgan go. And, while Morgan was never told he was not free to leave, he was also not told he was free to leave, either. All these factors lead to only one conclusion—on the basis of this record, Morgan was, for all practical purposes, under arrest within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment when he made his inculpatory statements.

See also State v. McCoy, Iowa SCt No. 02-1655, 2/4/05 (stopping defendant’s car and then transporting him to police station for interrogation implicated Dunaway).

There is, to be sure, 7th Circuit caselaw for the idea that “the line betweeen a lawful Terry stop and an unlawful arrest is not bright,” U.S. v. Vega, 72 F.3d 507, 515 (7th Cir. 1995) (drawing guns on suspect and “asking” (!) him to get into a police car for transport to another site didn’t amount to arrest). But any analysis must take into account the Dunaway line of cases, which now includes Kaupp v. Texas, 538 U.S. 626 (2003), per curiam (transport from home to police station, in handcuffs, for interrogation was tantamount to arrest requiring probable cause, notwithstanding state court ruling “that Kaupp consented to go with the officers when he answered ‘Okay’ to Pinkins’s statement that ‘we need to go and talk’”).

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