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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2002 12:06 am 
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Location: Mount Dora, Florida
I was under the impression that anything obtained from a person under arrest, prior to being read his rights, would not be admissible. Trying to convince the judge that the drugs would eventually be found is pure speculation.

The decision should be upheld. The evidence was not obtained legally.

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GEM


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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2002 5:45 am 
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Location: Framingham, MA USA
Search and Seizure Case. The following is a case involving the discovery of a cache of marijuana. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) was asked to rule on it on a direct report. How do you think the Court will Rule?

Here are the facts and I invite all to answer, and then I will report on how the Court Ruled.

Test your constitutional skills. No one will be demeaned.

The facts:

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 Prosecution advanced the theory that the discovery would have been inevitable, and would need to prove the facts on inevitability by a preponderance of evidence, even though it did not offer these facts and the prior hearing. Prosecutors argued that once the relative facts showing that the marijuana discovered in the investigation, would have been a routine step, Phillip’s conviction should stand.

How do you think the Court should rule?

Alan K


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"The Goddess of Justice is Blind"


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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2002 2:24 pm 
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Location: Framingham, MA USA
GEM posts a compelling reply, and it is a fact that evidence obtained from a suspect prior to Miranda warnings should be suppressed.

However, the prosecutors presented and requested, a chance to argue that this case fell within an exception to the rule, that is to say the evidence would be found under the normal course of investigation, e.g. the prosecutors argue that because of the strong odor of burning mijuana, they would have searched and found it anyway.

Does this change anyone's thinking?

I will publish the Court's decision shortly but invite all to reason or guess.

Alan K


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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2002 3:16 pm 
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Location: Halifax, NS Canada
I'll jump in.

I agree with the prosecutors - The police had reasonable cause to suspect that Phillip was involved in criminal activity to begin with.

They would have found the drugs in any event (the smell gave the situation away) under a reasonable search (which in this case was have been justified) and they exterted no more force than was necessary in their investigation. The exemption to the rule applies, the proscution rests, case closed Image (I think) Image

[This message has been edited by Mary S (edited May 29, 2002).]


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PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2002 6:45 pm 
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The genuine, absolutely guaranteed, warranted against all defects, lawyer's answer:

IT DEPENDS. Image

Where is the suspect in relation to the desk? Where is the desk in relation to whence comes the odor of marijuana? (These both have to do with the proximity factors for inevitable discovery in a search.) What did the judge have for lunch and has the court's significant other been good to the judge or not? (These have to do with the human factors in our courts; they're not all automotons.)

What does the court feel aobut Rhode Island v. Innis? Image

The chances are that the search probably was ultimately allowed; a decision with which I would not agree, but which I would expect.


student




[This message has been edited by student (edited May 29, 2002).]


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PostPosted: Thu May 30, 2002 3:30 pm 
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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.

Alan K


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PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2002 5:02 am 
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"It Depends" wins!

What Alan is saying (correct me if I get this wrong, counsel) is that at least two procedural mistakes were made by law enforcement:
1) the failure to give the Miranda rights timely;

2) the failure by the prosecution to make a proper case at trial for the claim of inevitable discovery that could be reviewed by an appellate court.

Courts of original jurisdiction - trial courts - hear the evidence. Evidence that is not heard by the trial court, and could have been, cannot be considered by the appellate court. Criminal defense attorneys may ask for a new trial based on newly discover3ed evidence that was unavailable during trial. Double jeopardy prevents prosecutors from asking to re-try a defendant based on new incriminating evidence.

Appellate courts like to base their decisions on the narrowest possible grounds. You'll note that this court did not say inevitable discovery could never be raised; rather, it said that in this case it was not properly proved and could not be revisited.

It depends....

student



[This message has been edited by student (edited May 30, 2002).]


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PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2002 9:18 pm 
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Location: Framingham, MA USA
Student:

Your reasoning is correct but the judgment was reversed and the Commowealth waived its rights to further argue the matter.

Your suggestion of double jeopardy would certainly apply in view of the reversed judgment. That judgment would result in the allowance of defendant's motion to suppress, without any further rights of the prosecution to further argue or raise the exception to the Miranda Rule, IMH.


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