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Media > Newsletters > Law Enforcement Bulletin > November 2013 > Miranda and Confessions (Requests for an Attorney): State of Ohio v. Ream

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Miranda and Confessions (Requests for an Attorney): State of Ohio v. Ream

Question: Are statements such as “get a public defender in here” and “they’re gonna have to provide me with some counsel” enough to activate Miranda rights?
Quick Answer: Maybe. But if the suspect continues to voluntarily talk and re-waives his right to counsel, even if it occurs several times throughout an interrogation, no violation of Miranda has occurred.

State of Ohio v. Ream, Third Appellate District, Allen County, Sept. 30, 2013.
Facts: James Ream entered the Allen County Sheriff’s Office wanting to speak to someone about his involvement in the murder of his brother Ron. Detective Mark Baker interviewed Ream several times, each time stating his rights and having him sign the advice of rights form. Baker stated that Ream did not exercise his right to counsel during any interview and freely and voluntarily answered all of his questions. Ream made the following statements in the interrogation concerning counsel:
“I will make you a deal. Give me some time to recount what happened. Get a public defender here with me so he can tell me what I am allowed to tell you because it’s your job to provide the prosecutor with information, and I can’t give you information right now. My mind in spinning right now…”
“They’re gonna have to provide me with some counsel. I’ll be happy to talk to you and fill in the gaps, but right now I’m still trying to remember what the gaps are.”
“Before I sign this, I am more than willing to cooperate, I need to have whoever they assigned [to] me present for any pertinent questions.”
After hearing these statements, Baker went out of his way to determine whether Ream was attempting to exercise his right to counsel. Baker told Ream numerous times that they did not have to talk and that he would leave the interview room right away if Ream no longer wished to speak with him. In response, Ream said he wanted to continue the interview. Ream argued he invoked his right to counsel, and the subsequent confession should be thrown out.
Importance: A merely “ambiguous or equivocal” invocation of the right to counsel does not dictate that law enforcement officers halt their questioning. Once an accused invokes his right to counsel, all further custodial interrogation must cease and may not be resumed in the absence of counsel unless the accused then waives his right to counsel again or initiates renewed communication with officers. In this case, even if Ream’s statements were construed as invoking his right to counsel, the court found no Miranda violation occurred because after discussing the possibility of obtaining a public defender, Ream immediately renewed communication with Baker and freely discussed the shooting.
Keep in Mind: Take a moment to pull up the full cases and read Baker’s attempts to pin Ream down about whether he was waiving his right to counsel. Baker, over and over, recommitted Ream to his waiver and allowed Ream to continue the conversation on his own. This is why Miranda was not violated.
More on Miranda and Confessions
Promises of Lenience and Flattery of Hope: In your interrogation room, you have a suspect who has been accused of raping two minors. After he waives his Miranda rights, you make the following statements to the suspect during the course of the interrogation:
“You don't want to be presented as a monster. These kids aren't liars. Do you wanna hurt these kids? Six kids have the same story.?
“Don't hurt the victims more. Let them have peace.”
“Why would they lie? They love you. They don't want you to continue to lie. A jury will bury you.”
“What happened in your childhood to make you do this? Maybe you should have got counseling. Let them be free. Let them heal. Don't make us go back to them and tell them they have to get on the stand. Let them know you are sorry. You don't want them acting out.”
You also tell the suspect his case will end up in court. After the interrogation, the suspect confesses. He now claims his statements are the product of coercive police conduct in the form of overreaching, promises of leniency, and flattery of hope. Did you improperly make these statements? The court in Kennedy says no. The detectives told Patrick Kennedy twice that his case was going to end up in court, and they made no misrepresentations of law or offers constituting a reduction in sentence or charges. Although the detectives misrepresented to Kennedy that they had spoken with witnesses, the use of deception did not make the interview coercive and does not violate due process. State of Ohio v. Kennedy, Second Appellate District, Montgomery County, Sept. 27, 2013.