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Court of Appeals Weighs in On Miranda

Maryland Criminal/Civil Appeals Attorney discusses new opinion by the Maryland Court of Appeals dealing with Miranda Warnings.

A new case was decided by Judge Barbera of the Maryland Court of Appeals on April 14, 2010 dealing with Miranda. The State alleged that Mr. Luckett believed his wife was having an affair with his son’s football coach. Mr. Luckett was alleged to have killed his wife and then went to the football coach’s place of business, a barber shop, and killed him.

Thereafter, Mr. Luckett attempted to take his life first by slitting his wrists and then by throwing himself in front of a Metro train. Detective Barba visited Luckett in the hospital and videotaped the interview. He read Luckett his rights under Miranda v. Arizona. Luckett asked if he would be “setting himself up” if he was going to discuss the case. Detective Barba responded that he didn’t need a lawyer if they were discussing matters “outside of the case.” Luckett then gave a lengthy statement describing his belief that his wife had been having an affair with Mr. Scales, his activities during the
months leading up to the murders, and the murders them selves. The Circuit Court ruled that the exchange between Detective Barba and Luckett failed to convey to Luckett his right to have a lawyer present during the interrogation and granted the motion to suppress. The State appealed. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the Circuit Court stating, ” the unnecessarily lengthy and rambling discussion about the nature of the Miranda rights not only included specifically
questionable statements of the law but utterly failed effectively to communicate the message mandated by Miranda.” The Court of Appeals agreed. The Court of Appeals held that Detective Barba did not inform Luckett that anything he said during interrogation could incriminate him. Detective Barba repeatedly advised Luckett that any of his statements that were not directly related to “the case” (whatever the detective meant by “the case”) were outside the purview of the right to counsel. The Court held that Detective Barba’s repeated “explanations” of what Miranda does and does not protect during interrogation were incorrect as a matter of law. The Court held that a suspect is not properly informed of his or her Miranda rights when a statement of those rights, however correct the statement may be, is nullified by other incorrect statements concerning those rights.

To read the opinion click on the link below.

http://mdcourts.gov/opinions/coa/2010/122a09.pdf

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