Saturday, February 02, 2002

silence please

The Delaware Constitution guarantees a stronger constitutional right to remain silent than does the U.S. Constitution. The recent case cited below, in which the Delaware Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision, was decided based upon the right to remain silent and not because the defendant's request to talk with his mother in some way was the same as a request to talk with an attorney.

Robert W. Draper, the Defendant, repeatedly said to police that he wanted to talk to his mother before he talked to police. This left it ambiguous as to whether he was invoking his right to remain silent, according to the Delaware Supreme Court decision. Under the federal constitution, the police would have been authorized to continue to question him. But Delaware's Constitution requires that when it is ambiguous, the police must clarify the situation before they may proceed with interrogation. In this case, there was never a clarification and the police continued with interrogation until there was a confession. Therefore the State must go back and proceed without the confession. It wouldn't have made any difference if the Defendant had said, " I won't talk with you until after I have had a drink of water", the legal point is that he said he didn't want to talk. This really had nothing to do with his mother.

Now, if his mother was an attorney we would have a different kettle of fish. Chinese Translation