An appeal in a Louisiana Supreme Court case was denied recently, which
may seem like a normal day to day experience, however the opinion caught
our eye. The Louisiana case turns on the issue of whether the defendant
requested a lawyer during questioning by police. The suspect stated to
the police interrogators, “this is how I feel, if y’all think
I did it, I know that I didn’t do it so why don’t you just
give me a lawyer dog cause this is not what’s up.” On its
face, this statement appears to show the defendant was requesting a lawyer
in hopes of avoiding self-incrimination, however one Justice’s opinion
has brought another, more humorous, view.
In a typical police interrogation a suspect is within his or her rights
to terminate the interview at any time by requesting a lawyer. The right
to end questioning barring the presence of an attorney is one of the most
well-known, yet often forgotten, rights guaranteed by the United States
Constitution. Typically, one refers to this right as a Miranda Right,
named for the case
State v. Miranda which brought it into the United States common law. The right to request
an attorney has been carefully tailored over the years in order to allow
the police more leeway in interrogating.
State v. Davis established that the request for a lawyer must be clear and unambiguous,
a prime example of the tailoring of the right to an attorney during questioning.
In the recent Louisiana decision, a Justice wrote in his concurring opinion
that the request for a “lawyer dog” is not an unambiguous
request, which has led to some humorous controversy. It seems the Justice
was indicating the defendant may have been requesting a canine companion
who is well versed in the law. Now, anyone even slightly versed in the
modern English language knows the term “dog” is often used
to refer to a friend or colleague in more friendly settings. This leads
us to believe the Justice likely wrote this into his opinion as a joke,
however it does highlight the issue of ambiguity which comes up so very
often in Miranda issues.
We here at Bleile & Dawson enjoy the company of dogs as much as the
next person, however we concur with the Justice in this case that dogs
are not qualified to sit for the bar exam in all 50 states just yet. With
that being said, it is always best to be clear and unambiguous when you
choose to end a police interrogation. “I need to speak with my attorney
prior to answering any questions” is a prime example of being clear
and unambiguous. If you are ever unsure, make sure you immediately contact
a competent attorney when you are approached by police. Otherwise, serious
damage to any case against you can and will occur.
The attorney’s at Bleile & Dawson are extremely knowledgeable
in criminal law, especially when it comes to defending our clients against
wrongful accusations, whether in the State of Ohio or the Commonwealth
of Kentucky. If you feel that you have wrongly been accused of a crime
and seek to find the best possible representation to fight for you, hire
a law firm that puts the client first and fights hard to protect the client.
Contact us today for a completely confidential consultation at 513-564-0088.