All who have responded to this post have reasoned well and all except GEM felt that the prosecution prevailed.
Answer to the Court’s Ruling:
The original post gave you the following information:
Phillip was convicted of possession of marijuana. He was arrested when police officers, who were investigating a report that he was intoxicated and had threatened to return to the home of a customer with a shotgun, detected a strong odor of burning marijuana upon entering his warehouse office. After arresting him, but before advising him of his Miranda Rights, the officers asked Phillip where the marijuana was. He told them it was in the drawer of his desk, where one of the officers located and seized a quantity marijuana.
It is uncontested that Phillip’s statement that the marijuana was in the drawer was obtained in violation of his rights under Miaranda v. Arizona. Indeed, the motion judge suppressed the statement as unlawfully obtained. It is also uncontested that the police used Phillip’s statement to locate the marijuana.
The SJC ruled that “the discovery and seizure were the fruit of the poisonous tree, and was unlawful. The resulting evidence should have been suppressed unless the Commonwealth established that its discovery would otherwise have been inevitable . To establish inevitability, the Commonwealth must prove the facts bearing on the inevitability by a preponderance of evidence, and once the relevant facts have been proved, that the discovery by lawful means was certain as a practical matter…The Commonwealth did not meet this burden at the hearing on the motion to suppress and explicitly waived any claim that the discovery was inevitable at oral argument.” ( SJC Docket No. 08692).
I believe that the Court was sending a message to the effect that when we are dealing with exceptions to Miranda warnings, it is the state's duty to have an evidentiary hearing (inevatability of discovery in this case) at the time of the hearing of the motion to suppress evidence.
When the prosecution failed to offer such evidence at this hearing, it waived its rights to do so, right then and there.
If the Commonwealth had developed its case on the fact that the evidence was very powerful, that police would have discovered the marijuana, without the pre-Miranda revelation by Phillip, then the case might have been decided differently.
What the Court distinguished, was that a pre-Miranda discovery can quickly be tainted as the fruit of the poisonous tree, and to establish the “inevitable find” theory, the prosecution would have had to raise and prove this concept at the time that the hearing to suppress evidence was held, the failure of which waived the prosecutions right to further argue this at any time thereafter.