September 27, 2010

Colorado Supreme Court decisions 9-27-10


Effland v. People             Miranda / Voluntariness / Custody / Prosecutorial Misconduct
Important case, short on time, so I lifted the following on a great holding by the Colorado Supreme Court:
“This case involves a failed suicide pact between Petitioner Phillip Effland, his wife, and adult daughter. Petitioner’s wife and daughter did not survive the incident; however, Petitioner did. Following his suicide attempt and the deaths of his wife and daughter, Petitioner was interrogated inside his hospital room by two police officers without the benefit of Miranda warnings. During the interrogation, Petitioner repeatedly stated that he did not wish to speak with the investigators until he had consulted with an attorney. The trial court denied Petitioner’s motion to suppress the statements he made during the interrogation. First, the trial court held that Petitioner was not in custody at the time of the interrogation and therefore was not entitled to Miranda protections. Second, because the court determined that Petitioner was not in custody, the court ruled that his invocations of the rights to remain silent and to counsel did not need to be honored. Third, the court held that Petitioner made the statements voluntarily. Finally, the trial court held that prosecutorial misconduct did not require suppression of the statements. The court of appeals affirmed.
We hold that Petitioner was in custody for Miranda purposes at the time of the interrogation and his statements should therefore have been suppressed during the prosecution’s case-in-chief. Having determined that Petitioner was in custody for Miranda purposes at the time of the interrogation, we do not reach the issue of whether, and to what degree, invocations of the rights to remain silent and to counsel must be honored in non-custodial interrogations. We also hold that Petitioner’s statements were not made voluntarily and must also be suppressed under the due process clauses of the United States and Colorado Constitutions. Finally, we hold that prosecutorial misconduct, if any, does not require suppression of Petitioner’s statements.”

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