As the paralegal assisting in the criminal case of the murder of Baby Roland, the DA wants to know what ruling I believe the judge will give, and the reasons for it. This is not easy to answer simply because a variety of laws are applicable. Moreover, it was to be expected that the defense would demand that Brook’s statement to officers Wesson and Smith in the squad car, informing them of where they could find the infant’s body, be excluded. Any decent lawyer would take this stance, and because the officers took Brook into custody as a suspect but did not read Miranda rights to her, which is also a relatively brief process. My initial response to the DA is then not hopeful. It seems likely that the judge will be hard on the Wesson and Smith. As police officers, and ones carrying a suspect in their car, it is difficult to understand why they would choose to engage in an emotional dialogue about the Christmas holiday and poor Baby Roland, and ignore applying Miranda to the suspect. Certainly, they had multiple opportunities to read Miranda to Brook. In the eyes of any court, such a failure translates to the violation of a constitutional right (Levesque, 2006, p. 245). Consequently, the judge may give the greater weight to this neglect, no matter the importance of Brook’s statement.
On the other hand, this could be interpreted by the judge in another direction. It is true that purely voluntary statements are excluded from a prosecutor’s case if Miranda was not done, but it is also true that a failure to apply Miranda does not necessarily mean that an admission be discarded (Acker, Brody, 2004, p. 278). In plain terms, a great deal here depends on the judge’s discretion. If the officers were negligent – and they certainly were – the fact remains that the free and voluntary rule may be seen as relevant to this case. Under the rule, an admission or confession is admissible provided there is absolutely no coercion directed at the suspect (Ingram, 2014, p. 725). Wesson and Smith were completely involved in their own conversation and asked nothing of Brook.
It is true as well that in the system, any spontaneous utterances made by a suspect to the police is considered evidence (Belloni, Hodgson, 1999, p. 58). In my own viewpoint, I feel that this is just and in no way a violation of a suspect’s rights. It is critical to remember that Brook volunteered the information, which of itself clearly implicates her in the murder. It is in fact remarkable that she spoke out; had she only remained silent until she had the opportunity to speak with an attorney, her case would have been much stronger.
In plain terms, the law makes a number of exceptions regarding the need for Miranda, and it is usually up to the judge to decide on admissibility. Technically speaking, when a suspect is not responding to an interrogation and spontaneously offers important and wholly unsolicited information, there is in fact no legal need to first apply Miranda (Wright, 2015, p. 171). This then goes to my opinion of how the judge should rule, asked of me by the DA. I reiterate that I firmly believe that the ruling should include Brook’s statement, and not only because the law arguable allows for this. The greater reality is that this was a freely given confession. It seems that, under the circumstances, Brook actually wanted to share the information and see herself brought to justice; there is really no other explanation for her spontaneous statement. My hope is that the judge perceives this as the most vital element in the case.
- Acker, J. R., & Brody, D. C. (2004). Criminal Procedure: A Contemporary Perspective. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
- Ingram, J. L. (2014). Criminal Evidence. New York, NY: Routledge.
- Levesque, R. J. R. (2006). The Psychology and Law of Criminal Justice Processes. New York, NY: Nova Publishers.
- Wright, R. (2015). Criminal Procedure: From the Courtroom To the Street. New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.