North Carolina Supreme Court Rules That Juvenile’s Request to Call Mother During Custodial Interrogation Was Not Clear Invocation of Statutory Right to Consult a Parent or Guardian To Bar Further Interrogation

Two months ago, the North Carolina Supreme Court in State v. Saldierna, ___ N.C. ___, 794 S.E.2d (Dec. 21, 2016), reversed the North Carolina Court of Appeals, State v. Saldierna, ___ N.C. App. ___, 775 S.E.2d 326 (2015), and ruled that a juvenile’s request to call his mother during custodial interrogation was not a clear invocation of the statutory right to consult a parent or guardian that would bar officers from conducting or continuing to conduct interrogation. This post discusses this ruling.

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New Bulletin on Juvenile Interrogations

Nearly five years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided J.D.B. v. North Carolina, a case arising from the police interrogation of a middle school student in Chapel Hill. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that police officers must consider a juvenile’s age when determining whether they must read juveniles their Miranda rights before questioning them. The ruling represents a major shift in Miranda jurisprudence by establishing a different standard for evaluating police interrogations of juveniles – the reasonable child standard. In the years since J.D.B., however, lower courts have not clearly defined how the reasonable child standard impacts the assessment of whether a juvenile was “in custody.” The application of this new standard also raises questions about how North Carolina courts evaluate custody determinations in the school setting. These and other issues are addressed in “Applying the Reasonable Child Standard to Juvenile Interrogations After J.D.B. v. North Carolina” (No. 2016/01), a new Juvenile Law Bulletin.

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The Law of Interrogation

In connection with some teaching that I have coming up, I’ve prepared a short outline summarizing the law of interrogation. It’s available as a PDF here. It covers voluntariness, Miranda, and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, plus the recording requirements of G.S. 15A-211, including the statutory amendments that took effect on December 1. I … Read more

Promises, Promises

An involuntary confession can’t be used against a defendant at trial, not even to impeach him if he testifies. See, e.g., Mincey v. Arizona, 437 U.S. 385 (1978). Whether a confession is voluntary is determined by examining the totality of the circumstances, see, e.g., Withrow v. Williams, 507 U.S. 680 (1993), and asking whether “the … Read more

Criminal Law Blog — Vacation Edition

I’m on vacation this week, so my blogging will be a little lighter fare than usual. Today, I thought I’d call attention to this article in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. It is an excellent explanation of Maryland v. Shatzer, the Miranda decision about which I blogged here. I am still getting quite a few … Read more