Under the famous Supreme Court Miranda case, persons who have been arrested must be advised of their rights, including the right to consult with an attorney and to have their lawyer present during police questioning.  Once a suspect requests an attorney, the extent to which the police may further interact with the suspect was explored in an unreported opinion last week from Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals in a case called Bryan Javier Aquice v. State of Maryland.

Aquice was charged with first degree murder, robbery and other offenses arising from the home invasion and murder of a victim by four men. After his arrest, the police recorded an interview with this defendant, which began with a detective reading him his rights, including the right not to say anything to the police.  When the detective advised Aquice of his right to have an attorney present during questioning, the defendant said “yes, and that’s who I would like here.” After the detective finished reading the defendant his rights, Aquice said he “would listen” to the detective who proceeded to outline their case to him, whereupon Aquice said that he and his cousin “are probably the most innocent ones in the whole thing.”

Two of this defendant’s  accomplices pled guilty to murder and robbery, and testified at Aquice’s trial that they recruited him and his cousin to participate in the crime.  Prior to trial, defense counsel moved to suppress the statement that Aquice gave to the police after his arrest, which was denied by the trial judge, and statement was played for the jury which  convicted him.  The appellate Court reversed, holding that the police were required once Aquice requested an attorney to stop questioning him.

The Court of Special Appeals noted that once a suspect requests counsel, police interrogation “and its equivalent” must cease. Aside from questioning, conduct or words which the police should know are likely to elicit incrimination statements are also improper.

The Court found that this defendant did not initiate further conversation with the police, or volunteer or “blurt” out statements that incriminate him, and his statement should not have been admitted in evidence.

The appellate court did find sufficient evidence in the record to corroborate the testimony of defendant’s two accomplices to warrant a new trial.

Thomas Patrick Ryan is a partner in the Rockville law firm of McCarthy Wilson, which specializes in civil litigation

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