JOHN E. REID & ASSOCIATES, INC.
 

Legal Updates Fall 2018

The investigator’s discussion of religion during defendant's interrogation did not rise to the level of a beneficial promise

In Medrano v State (August 2019) the Court of Appeals held that the detective's discussion of religion during defendant's interrogation did not rise to the level of a beneficial promise, and thus defendant's confession was voluntary. From the Court’s opinion:

This case arises from the conviction of Jesus Medrano Jr., for continuous sexual abuse of a child, indecency with a child—sexual contact, and three counts of indecency with a child by exposure. Medrano argues that after discovering his religious nature, the detectives made several attempts to force his confession by speaking about religion. Medrano argues Detectives Thomas and Wright told Medrano that the only way he could “break the chains and kill the demon” was to confess to his crimes and that in return for a confession, Medrano would receive salvation.

The dispositive issue concerns whether the discussion of religion rises to the level of a beneficial promise. Religion arguably influenced the conversation during Medrano’s interrogation. Detective Thomas told Medrano that the only way he could “break the chains and kill the demon” was to confess to his crimes. During his testimony, the detective explained “breaking the chains” referred to the chains of sexual abuse. Detective Thomas further testified that he believed “telling the truth would be beneficial to [Medrano].” Neither detective was a member of any religious clergy nor did either detective suggest they had the power to give Medrano spiritual salvation.

Medrano was told that there may be a possibility that God would give him a chance to put his life back together. This court has held that references to God and seeking forgiveness for mistakes do not rise to the level of a promise. However, neither officer promised to confer any religious benefit in exchange for his confession and any alleged statement that there may be a possibility that God would give Medrano a chance to put his life back together pertains to a future event. “A ‘prediction about future events’ is not the same as a ‘promise.’ ” 

The mere discussion of religion or biblical principles is not enough absent a promise conferring a benefit that would render an otherwise voluntary confession involuntary. 

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Court reject’s defendant’s claim that his confession was coerced because he was held in custody overnight for approximately twelve hours prior to his confession with minimal sleep and no food and water

In Flemming v. Baughman (September 2019) the US District Court, N.D. California, upheld the admissibility of the defendant’s confession, rejecting his claim that it was coerced. From the Court’s opinion:

Petitioner here contends that his initial statement to the officers in the Oakland Police Department confessing that he fired six or seven shots at the Mustang was made involuntarily under coercive circumstances, and that the California Court of Appeal was unreasonable finding otherwise. First, petitioner cites to his interview circumstances, specifically that he was held in custody overnight for approximately twelve hours prior to his confession with minimal sleep and no food and water. Second, petitioner cites to instances during his interrogation in which the police allegedly made statements such as that he would be seen as a “monster” by the prosecutor if he didn’t confess, that refusal to admit his guilt during the interview was “not gonna work very well for you,” and that he was “taking a situation that’s not as bad as it could be and making it as bad as it could be” …. Third, petitioner points to his personal characteristics — that he was an uneducated, trauma-exposed, 18-year-old.

This order finds the California Court of Appeal reasonably found petitioner’s statement voluntary. First, petitioner was offered food, drink, and the bathroom upon his arrest, which he turned down. He was told that if he changed his mind, he could knock on the door and let the officers know otherwise. He did not. He was in custody for those twelve hours without food and drink by choice. Furthermore, when a detective first entered the room to interview petitioner, he was asleep. That petitioner had difficulty or was uncomfortable sleeping prior to the interview does not make his statement involuntary.

Second, officers did not make any coercive statements that rendered petitioner’s confession involuntary. Generally, coercive statements involve threats or false promises of leniency…. Although some of the officers’ statements may have been deceptive in terms of mitigating the potential consequences of committing the crime, there is no indication in the passages cited by petitioner or anywhere in the record that shows the officers actually threatened petitioner or implicitly promised leniency. Rather, the statements indicate police told petitioner that denying guilt could worsen the situation, which is a common interview technique, and does not demonstrate a subject’s incriminating answers are involuntary. At most, the officers’ statements made petitioner feel as if confessing earlier rather than later could benefit his case. Such nominal pressure is insufficient to suggest coercion.

Coupled with the aforementioned interview circumstances and the fact that petitioner was an adult at the time of the interview, it was reasonable for the California Court of Appeal to find petitioner’s confession was voluntary. 

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Court details criteria to consider in determining custody

In State v. Montoya (September 2019) the Supreme Court of Nebraska upheld the admissibility of the defendant’s confession, rejecting her claims that she was in custodyduring all three interviews and argued her statements should be suppressed, because (1) in the first and second interviews, she was not advised of her Miranda rights, and (2) in the second and third interviews her will was overborne by coercive interrogation tactics.

In their assessment of the defendant’s claims the Nebraska Supreme Court referenced the six “indicia of custody” outlined by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in U.S. v. Axsom. The Axsom indicia include: (1) whether the suspect was informed at the time of questioning that the questioning was voluntary, that the suspect was free to leave or request the officers to do so, or that the suspect was not considered under arrest; (2) whether the suspect possessed unrestrained freedom of movement during questioning; (3) whether the suspect initiated contact with authorities or voluntarily acquiesced to official requests to respond to questions; (4) whether strong-arm tactics or deceptive stratagems were used during questioning; (5) whether the atmosphere of the questioning was police dominated; and (6) whether the suspect was placed under arrest at the termination of the proceeding. 

The Supreme Court found that the defendant was not in custody during her second interview which was at the police station, and rejected her claims that her statements should have been suppressed, because they were not voluntarily made and her will was overborne by coercive police tactics. The Court stated that while the confession of an accused may be involuntary and inadmissible if obtained in exchange for a promise of leniency, mere advice or exhortation by the police that it would be better for the accused to tell the truth, when unaccompanied by either a threat or promise, does not make a subsequent confession involuntary. In order to render a statement involuntary, any benefit offered to a defendant must be definite and must overbear his or her free will.

The district court found that Bauermeister’s statements during the third interview did not rise to the level of promises of leniency or threats of harsher punishment. After reviewing the video recording and considering the totality of the circumstances, we agree. Bauermeister used standard interrogation techniques, and nothing about the circumstances of the interrogation or the characteristics and reaction of Montoya suggest her will was overborne. On this record, we agree with the district court’s conclusion that Montoya’s statements in the third interview, both oral and written, were voluntarily made.

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Telling the defendant that cooperation would be his best option did not amount to a promise of leniency

In State v. Apodaca (August 2019) the Supreme Court of Utah upheld the trial court's finding, in evaluating voluntariness of defendant's incriminating statements to detectives, that detectives did not promise defendant that he would be out of jail by Christmas, but rather offered only to pass along information about defendant's cooperation to prosecutors, and that detective's statement to defendant that cooperation would be defendant's best option did not amount to guarantee of leniency that would demonstrate that defendant's confession was coerced. Form the Supreme Court’s opinion:

“The ultimate goal of analyzing whether a confession was coerced” and therefore involuntary “is to determine ‘whether, considering the totality of the circumstances, the free will of the witness was overborne.’ ….. It may be true that no one single issue or specific circumstance is egregious enough by itself to qualify as coercive. However, coercion may still result from the cumulative effect of many relatively minor issues. This is a review of the totality as a totality, not a checklist of discrete and isolated factors. “[T]he totality of circumstances [includes] both the characteristics of the accused and the details of the interrogation…”

Apodaca first argues that his will was overcome as a result of threats and promises made by the detectives. Specifically, Apodaca asserts that Detective Jensen promised him that he would be out by Christmas if he cooperated. According to Apodaca, he understood this as a guaranteed promise of leniency and would not have waived his rights without such a promise. However, the State argues that Detective Jensen only promised to “relay any of Apodaca’s cooperation to the prosecuting attorney.” The trial court found that the detective only promised to relay Apodaca’s cooperation to the prosecution—and therefore the promise was not coercive—and the court of appeals ruled that the trial court’s finding was not clear error. 

We have said that “[t]he mere representation to a defendant by officers that they will make known to the prosecutor and to the court that [the defendant] cooperated with them” is not a coercive promise…… the recorded interviews are replete with instances of the detectives explaining to Apodaca that they cannot make any guarantees and that the prosecuting attorney would make the final decisions, not the detectives. 

Apodaca’s second argument is closely related to his first. He asserts that his statements were coerced because the detectives guaranteed him leniency in exchange for his cooperation. Specifically, Apodaca points to Detective Jensen’s statements that “it always look[s] better to cooperate” and that he would “let the prosecution know” about Apodaca’s cooperation. The court of appeals held that such statements were not coercive because the detectives repeatedly stated that they could not make promises or guarantees to Apodaca regarding his incarceration. 

We agree with the court of appeals that the detectives did not make any guarantee of leniency to Apodaca in return for his cooperation. The detective’s statements to Apodaca that the prosecutors would “look at [his cooperation] hard and ... realize that [he was] being helpful with this investigation” were not a guarantee of leniency when viewed in the full context of the interview—as the court of appeals carefully clarified.

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The value of video recording the interrogation (Case 1)

In US v Hicks (September 2019) the US District Court, S.D. Georgia found that the defendant’s incriminating statements were made voluntarily and “were not the product of any coercion or undue pressure.” From the court’s opinion:

Considering the testimony and argument presented at the August 26, 2019 hearing, as well as the video footage of Mr. Hicks’s June 16, 2018 interrogation, I find that Mr. Hicks’s statements were voluntarily made. Several facts support this conclusion.

Based on Mr. Hicks’s appearance at the August 26, 2019 hearing and in the video footage of the June 16, 2018 interrogation, he appears at all relevant times to be in relatively good physical health and does not demonstrate any mental infirmity or diminished mental capacity. From the video footage of the interrogation, it is clear that Mr. Hicks had no difficulty understanding or speaking the English language. During the interrogation, Mr. Hicks was expressive, articulate, and fully able to understand and discuss difficult or complex concepts.

At the outset of the June 16, 2018 interrogation, Mr. Hicks was notified of his rights and executed a waiver acknowledging that he is aware of those rights. The notice and waiver occurred reasonably soon after Mr. Hicks’s arrest. Mr. Hicks was informed that he could stop talking and end the interrogation at any time, and Mr. Hicks acknowledged this instruction. Mr. Hicks was interrogated by no more than two officers at a time for approximately 40 minutes. The interrogation was not exhaustingly long. Moreover, Mr. Hicks was alert, responsive, coherent, and attentive throughout the interrogation. The interrogating officer never promised him more lenient treatment in response for any cooperation. During the interrogation, Officer Boyles emphasized the seriousness of the situation and the possibility of criminal charges, but the information is not conveyed in a threatening or coercive manner. Overall, the tone throughout the interrogation was profession and conversational. The video footage demonstrates that the law enforcement officer did not speak to Mr. Hicks in loud or raised voices at any time. Quite the opposite. Officer Boyles was direct by calm and metered in his questions. While the location and circumstances of the interview were likely intimidating to Mr. Hicks, the location and circumstances were not unusual or threatening, and certainly were not coercive in any way that would render Mr. Hicks’s statements involuntary.

Furthermore, the video footage does not contain any indication that Mr. Hicks was physically threatened or restrained at any time during the interrogation. Again, the video footage shows the opposite—Officer Boyles and the other interrogating officer’s kept ample distance (and a table) between themselves and Mr. Hicks. At the end of the interrogation, Officer Boyles even asks Mr. Hicks permission to shake his hand, and Mr. Hicks agreed. Furthermore, the footage does not show that Mr. Hicks ever requested counsel, a telephone call, a break in questioning, food, or water. The footage does not reflect that Mr. Hicks was in any distress during the interrogation, and, in fact, he appears calm and comfortable throughout the interrogation. Although Mr. Hicks briefly states that he is cold, at no point during the interrogation did Mr. Hicks express that he was in any physical discomfort or demonstrate any physical manifestation of discomfort.

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The value of video recording the interrogation (Case 2)

In Rios v. US (August 2019) the US District Court , S.D. Texas rejected the defendant’s claim that his incriminating statements were coerced. From the court’s opinion:

Movant claims that his attorney should have sought suppression of his interview statements based on the argument that his statements were coerced. Movant also asserts that his statement identifying the 16 GB flash drive to the agents was coerced and that the flash drive should have been suppressed as a fruit of his coerced statements. Movant describes that agents executed a search warrant on his home around 7 A.M…. The agents entered Movant’s bedroom and arrested him at gunpoint…. The agents took Movant outside while handcuffed... Roughly twenty minutes later, the agents uncuffed him and brought him back inside the house, sitting him down at his kitchen table... Movant states that during this time, the agents seized his “computer, a portable hard drive, and an 8 GB thumb drive....” 

Movant was then questioned by four agents at his kitchen table... Movant describes that other agents stood in adjacent rooms, appearing to “block[ ] my exits.” ... Movant mainly asserts that he was coerced because the agents “threatened” him by saying, “[Movant] had better answer [the agent’s] questions,” and to “not hold back any information or it would be bad for me.” …. Movant states that the agents repeatedly threatened him by making these kinds of statements throughout the interrogation... Movant suggests he was still shaken up from the agents entering his home, because Movant also points out that he “had just been thrown on the ground and handcuffed while I had numerous firearms pointed at me.” ...

The focus of a court’s inquiry is on the coerciveness of the police conduct….. That coercive police activity must be the cause of the confession…..A court must ultimately ask “whether a defendant’s will was overborne by the circumstances surrounding the giving of [an incriminating statement].” ….

The agents may have made statements designed to incentivize Movant into providing more information during his interview; however, these statements did not render the confession involuntary. “Involuntariness is present if there are threats or promises of illegitimate action” …… An officer’s statement is not “illegitimate” if it is true. .. Encouragement to be honest with the authorities and to be cooperative with the government is not coercion. …

The audio recording of Movant’s interview reflects that agents did not make coercive statements; rather, the agents encouraged Movant to be truthful. The agents made it clear to Movant that the agents had already seized his computer and would examine his computer at some point. Agent Reneau told Movant “just remember, he’s [Ulrich] [going to] go in the computer, I mean, he’s [going to] look, so I just don’t want any surprises for us.” …. Agent Ulrich stated to Movant, “you’re kind of misleading and changing your story just a little bit, so, but first you said you had some in your download folder, then you came back and you said ‘I only had one.’ Now you realize, I’m going to see everything,” and “everything’s [going to] be exposed to me.” ….

Agent Ulrich additionally stated:

[I]t’s important that you’re honest with us right now, okay, because I don’t want to go back and tell my boss, well, ‘James wasn’t really truthful with us, he was kind of dancing around, you know, he kind of told us this then he told us that, you know, his stories changed just a little bit.’ Alright. Okay. So, let’s try it again. If I go in and I hook up my software to your computer, which I’m [going to] do in a little bit ... How many image files and movie files of younger women do you think I’m going to find on your laptop?

……. 

The agents were candid in telling Movant that they would be able to compare his statements about the contents of his computer with the actual contents of his computer. It cannot be said that these statements are “illegitimate” because they are true and because the agents’ statements amounted to no more than encouragement to tell the truth.

Movant does not demonstrate there is a reasonable likelihood a suppression motion would have been successful. In light of the totality of the circumstances, the agents’ statements were not coercive. 

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Court outlines acceptable interrogator techniques

In US v. Barfield (October 2019) the US District Court, N.D. Illinois rejected the defendant’s claim that his confession was coerced by the investigators making him a false promise that there was a “way out” of prosecution. From the court’s opinion:

[Investigator] Hagee then said the following:

Mr. Hagee: ... Here’s the thing. There’s – there may be a way out of this. Okay? I know you’re not all the way at the top, but I know you’re above Socks; right? You’re in the middle. I know there’s people above you; there’s people below you; right?

Mr. Barfield: [Inaudible]

Mr. Hagee: Okay. So this is going to be – well, let’s kind of hit the restart button on this. All right? There may be a way for you to sort of help yourself –

Defendant argues that the Government coerced him into incriminating himself, making his statements to the agents involuntary and thus inadmissible. 

Although false promises of leniency are forbidden, “the law permits police to pressure and cajole, conceal material facts, and actively mislead” a subject…. In other words, “[t]rickery, deceit, even impersonation do not render a confession inadmissible ... unless government agents make threats or promises.” ….. “The policeman is not a fiduciary of the suspect. The police are allowed to play on a suspect’s ignorance, his anxieties, his fears, and his uncertainties; they just are not allowed to magnify those fears, uncertainties, and so forth to the point where rational decision becomes impossible.”….. Only if circumstances “demonstrate that police coercion or overreaching overbore the accused’s will and caused the confession” is an incriminating statement involuntary. 

To determine whether police have overborne the accused’s will in such a way, the Court considers the totality of the circumstances surrounding the accused’s statements…. In analyzing the totality of the circumstances, the Seventh Circuit has considered several specific circumstances, including the actual words used by the police when making a supposed promise,…..; whether the accused was given his Miranda warning; the Defendant’s age; the nature and duration of the questioning; and whether the Defendant was punished physically, id.

With respect to Defendant, the words actually uttered by the agents did not constitute false promises of leniency—either when considered by themselves or in the greater context of the interrogation. Defendant primarily points to one statement by Agent Hagee and argues that it constitutes the sort of fraudulent statement by an officer that would render any admissions involuntary: that “there may be away out of this. Okay?”

This language is not definite enough to constitute a promise, let alone a false promise of leniency…. First, Agent Hagee couched the language by using the word “may.” The word “may” by its nature is not the language of a guarantee or a promise, but rather suggests that a circumstance could potentially come about if certain conditions are met. The agent does not say, “If you tell me who your supplier is, you will not be prosecuted.” That would likely cross the line. 

Rather, like the language that was approved of by the Seventh Circuit in Villalpando, the language used by Agent Hagee here does not rise to the level of the forbidden quid pro quo that otherwise might cause an unreliable confession…..In Villalpando, the officer told the accused that “we don’t have to charge you” and indicated that she would sit down with the DEA, police, and the accused’s probation officer to “work this out.’ ” ….. Such promises, the Seventh Circuit held, were “less than solid.” … “None of these, standing alone or in the context of the interview, represented a solid offer of leniency in return solely for his admission to cocaine possession.” 

Similarly, any supposed promise here is “less than solid.” In addition to the use of the word “may”—which indicates a potentiality—the agent was likewise ambiguous as to what was being offered as “a way out.” A “way out” is not a legal term or a term of art. Certainly Defendant raises a reasonable argument that this could be interpreted to mean a complete avoidance of all legal and criminal culpability in the matter. And perhaps the agents were opening the door to a negotiation on such a topic, but it certainly was not definitively promised. A more reasonable interpretation of a “way out” is that Barfield could earn himself favor with the Government and enter some sort of cooperation agreement or earn a sentencing reduction down the line. Such an agreement would be a “way out” from being subjected to the full statutory penalties that Barfield was and is facing in this case for the alleged heroin and fentanyl distribution conspiracy. Thus, the language alone is not sufficiently clear to constitute a promise.

Moreover, other circumstances militate against a finding of coercion. The Defendant acknowledged his rights and has a familiarity with the criminal justice system. He was 36 years old at the time of the interrogation—a grown, mature man. He was not physically threatened in any way. Given the totality of the circumstances, Defendant’s statements were voluntarily given and were not improperly induced by the type of false promise that has been held to be unlawful.

…….As noted above, Barfield repeatedly acknowledged that his statements could be used against him (which Agent Hagee affirmed mid-interrogation), the agents did not make a promise that he would not be prosecuted, and Barfield was not subjected to any sort of physical intimidation.….. The officers did not cross the line to the point of making rational decision impossible in this case.

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Advising the defendant that the alleged victim (a minor) was claiming the sexual conduct was forcible which the investigator described as rape, while stating that he (the investigator) believed the conduct could have been consensual, was not coercive (Value of recording)

In State v. McClellan (October 2019) the Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District, rejected the defendant’s claim that his incriminating statement of having sex with a minor victim was due to coercive police conduct. From the Court of Appeals’ decision:

The thrust of Appellant’s argument was that his confession was the byproduct of coercive police activity. Appellant pointed out that Sergeant Reynolds repeatedly misstated the legal consequences of admitting to consensual sex rather than forcible sex. Thus, Appellant concluded that his statement was obtained in violation of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and must be suppressed.

…. after careful review of the transcript of the recorded interview, the transcript of the suppression hearing, and the recorded interview itself, we find no wrong doing by Sergeant Reynolds. The Court finds that the actions of Sergeant Reynolds were not objectively coercive. He clearly urged the Defendant to tell the truth and pointed out to him how the DNA results were evidence of his having had sexual intercourse with the alleged victim. He informed him that the alleged victim was claiming the conduct was forcible which he described as rape while he believed the conduct could have been consensual. Sergeant Reynolds did not at any time indicate that if there had been consensual sex rather than forcible sex that the Defendant would be given any benefit such as a lesser prison term. He did not promise not to arrest him if he confessed. When Defendant asked what would happen if there had been consensual sex the officer responded that it depended upon the circumstances and that he could not say what would happen. In short, there was no coercion, no inducement, no promise made to the Defendant that if he gave an incriminating statement that he would receive any benefit legal or otherwise.



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Confession suppressed because unequivocal invocation of right to a lawyer was ignored (Value of recording)

In People v. Firestine (July 2019) the Appellate Court of Illinois, Fifth District, upheld the lower court’s decision that the subject’s incriminating statements should be suppressed because the investigator ignored the defendant’s unequivocal request for a lawyer. From the Appellate Court’s opinion:

The defendant, Anthony Firestine, was charged with several offenses in connection with an incident in which two of his brothers were shot. The defendant admitted to police that he shot one of his brothers in the foot. He also admitted firing five additional shots but told police that he did not know whether any of those bullets hit his other brother. He claimed that all six shots were intended as warning shots. The defendant filed a motion to suppress his statement to police, arguing that, after he invoked his right to counsel, the investigating officer continued to ask him questions. The St. Clair County circuit court granted the defendant's motion. The State appeals, arguing that the defendant made only a limited invocation of his right to counsel by stating, “I don't want to answer that question without my lawyer.” We affirm.

The following exchange took place during the questioning of the defendant:

“OFFICER HARTSOE: Did you shoot your brother, Joe, tonight?

THE DEFENDANT: Did I shoot him?

OFFICER HARTSOE: Mmm hmm.

*889 **639 THE DEFENDANT: No.

OFFICER HARTSOE: Did you shoot him in the foot?

THE DEFENDANT: I don't want to answer that question without my lawyer.

OFFICER HARTSOE: Okay. Did you shoot John?

THE DEFENDANT: Did I shoot John?

OFFICER HARTSOE: Mmm hmm.

THE DEFENDANT: Not that I know of.”

Officer Hartsoe continued to question the defendant. He asked the defendant where he was that evening, and the defendant acknowledged that he went to John's house. Officer Hartsoe then asked if his encounter there was good or bad, and the defendant indicated that it was bad. At this point, Officer Hartsoe said, “So tell me about the parts you do want to talk about.” In response, the defendant said, “I'll talk about the whole thing.”

In this case, there is no question that the defendant was given the warnings required by Miranda. There is no question that he unequivocally invoked his right to counsel. There is also no question that Officer Hartsoe continued to interrogate the defendant after he did so. The only question is the scope of the defendant's invocation of his right to counsel. As we stated previously, invoking the right to counsel under Miranda allows a suspect to control what subjects can be discussed during the interrogation… Thus, courts recognize that a suspect may make a limited or selective invocation of his right to counsel…..The question in this case is whether a reasonable police officer should have understood the defendant's invocation of that right in this case to be limited to certain subjects and, if so, what those subjects were.

……it is worth noting that, even if we were to accept the State's assertion that the defendant unambiguously made only a limited request for counsel, we would still find that Officer Hartsoe failed to honor his request. Contrary to what Officer Hartsoe testified nearly two years after the interrogation, the video shows that he did not merely go on to ask the defendant about “the rest of his day that evening.” Instead, he immediately asked another question about the shooting. We do not consider the shooting of John to be a separate subject from the shooting of Joe because they were shot during the same incident. The fact that the officer did not change the subject was emphasized by the trial court in explaining its ruling. Moreover, Officer Hartsoe did not even refrain from asking again whether the defendant shot Joe. He asked, “What were the other five [bullets] for?” This question was clearly designed to elicit precisely the response it did—a statement that one of those bullets struck Joe in the foot. Because Officer Hartsoe did not honor the defendant's invocation of his right to counsel, the court correctly granted his motion to suppress.

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Is the statement “They [will] throw the book at you” a threat?

In Hudson v. State (November 2019) the Court of Appeals of Georgia found that the statement “They [will] throw the book at you” was not a threat. From the Court’s opinion:

On November 30, 2015, the mother of 13-year-old D. M. reported to police that she had discovered sexually explicit social media messages exchanged between D. M. and Hudson. The police interviewed D. M., who stated that she and Hudson had met online, corresponded via social media, and engaged in both sexual intercourse and oral sex on several occasions at her home. D. M. picked Hudson’s picture out of a photographic lineup and identified him as the man with whom she had sex. 

After receiving his Miranda warnings, Hudson made several statements to police. He initially denied any inappropriate conduct and asserted that he did not know D. M. The following conversation then occurred:

Officer: Maybe you just didn’t know [D. M.] was young. Maybe she told you a lie, told you she was a different age. If that’s what happened you just need to tell me that, so I know. But to tell me that you don’t know her and you was never there, and I know that’s a lie, then that’s not helping.

Hudson: Ain’t gonna help me neither sir if I go to jail. If I tell you I messed with her like, I’m admitting the guilt.

Officer: At least then I could tell them you cooperated instead of lying to me. Then denying it and them proving that you denied it and lied. They [will] throw the book at you.

After that exchange, Hudson admitted that he and D. M. had engaged in sexual intercourse and oral sex.

Prior to trial, Hudson moved to suppress his statements to police….

Asserting that his “confession was the product of a threat,” …. Hudson argued that the police coerced his confession by “saying they would throw the book at [him] if [he didn’t] confess[.]” The trial court rejected this claim, finding the officer’s statement to be “akin to a mere ‘truism’ or recounting of fact rather than a threat of injury that would render the statement involuntary.”

We agree. “There is a material difference between a statement to a [suspect] that it would be better for him to tell the truth, and one wherein he is told that it would be better for him to make a confession.” …. Mere “exhortations that [an accused] should tell the truth” do not render a confession involuntary because “no hope of benefit springs from such an admonishment….. Undoubtedly, the officer in this case admonished Hudson not to lie. But the officer did not tell Hudson that he would be better off if he confessed, offer Hudson any benefit in exchange for the confession, or threaten injury if Hudson refused to cooperate with the police. And “[t]elling a suspect that truthful cooperation might be considered by others does not render a statement involuntary[.]”

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