So, this happened today: Two guys were arraigned for petty theft charges. Cops showed up and started asking them questions about an unrelated robbery and taking their pictures. The defense attorney intervened, and this is what transpired:
A short version of what happened, including my commentary, is already on the Chronicle. Since people already know about this, and I therefore can’t use it for the perfect exam question that it is, here’s my analysis:
A. Did the cops violate the clients’ constitutional rights?
A. 1. Sixth Amendment.
In “criminal prosecutions”, that is, after a person is formally charged, he or she is entitled to legal representation. This means, under Massiah v. U.S., that once the person has retained a lawyer, the police is not allowed to elicit information from him/her. But: The Sixth Amendment is offense-specific, which means the cops *can* approach the person regarding an unrelated offense. So far, what the cops did was kosher.
A. 2. Fifth Amendment
But people also have a privilege against self-incrimination, and when under custodial interrogation, they should be Mirandized so that they know they may remain silent and consult with an attorney. Was this “custodial interrogation”? sticky. On one hand, these guys are not under arrest; they are merely standing in the court hallway. On the other hand, the cop says, “you’ll be free to leave when we’re done”, which presumably means they are not free to leave at the moment. And, does asking for names and taking pictures count as “interrogation”? does it produce “testimonial evidence”? If so, they should have been Mirandized. My instinct, lamentably, is that it doesn’t. No custody, questionable interrogation.
B. Was the lawyer allowed to intervene?
Even assuming that there was a violation of the clients’ privilege against self-incrimination, under Moran v. Burbine the privilege belongs to the client, not to the lawyer. The clients should have stopped the interrogation and asked for the lawyer, not vice versa. Of course, this is ridiculously unrealistic–who better than the lawyer to help people with their rights? But there you have it.
C. Should the cops have arrested the lawyer?
Even if the lawyer did not, constitutionally, have a right to intervene, the arrest is ridiculous. There’s an argument there, but the lawyer is not being violent or disruptive in any way. The cops clearly got carried away.
All the other stuff that is going on in the political chatter–racial profiling, zealous representation, yada yada–strikes me as nothing more than political flourish. The bare bones of the legal situation are, I think, as I stated above. Thoughts?