Shortly after his arrest in connection with a robbery, the 18-year-old defendant was taken to an interrogation room for questioning by two officers. When the officers informed him that he had a right to his counsel’s presence at the interrogation, the accused responded “Uh, yeah. I’d like to do that.” Despite this response, the officers continued with their questioning, and when they subsequently asked the accused whether he wished to talk to them without a lawyer being present, the accused responded “Yeah and no, uh, I don’t know what’s what, really,” and “All right. I’ll talk to you then.” The defendant then told the officers that he knew in advance about the planned robbery but claimed that he was not a participant. After considerable probing, the defendant confessed, before he reasserted his earlier story that he only knew about the planned crime. Upon further questioning, the defendant again requested a lawyer saying “I wanta get a lawyer.” This time the officers honored the request and terminated the interrogation.
Whether the defendant’s initial request for counsel was ambiguous in light of his responses to further police questioning?
No. The defendant’s responses to continued government questioning did not render his initial request for counsel ambiguous under rule that all questioning must cease after an accused requests counsel.
The Court held that the accused’s initial request for counsel when he stated “Uh, yeah. I’d like to do that,” was not ambiguous. The officers should have terminated their questioning at that point. The defendant’s post-request responses to further interrogation could not be used to cast doubt on the clarity of his initial request for counsel. A valid waiver of an accused’s right to have his counsel present during interrogation cannot be established by showing only that the accused responded to further government-initiated custodial interrogation.
469 U.S. 91, 105 S. Ct. 490 (1984)