State v. Sanelle

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 09-07-2017
  • Case #: A156503
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P. J. for the Court; Garrett, J.; & Lagesen, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

A statement that is “tenuous or equivocal in isolation may be a sufficient request for counsel when evaluated in the context of all of the circumstances.” State v. Brooke, 276 Or App 885, 892 (2016).

Defendant appealed a judgment of conviction for murder constituting domestic violence (ORS 163.115). Defendant assigned error to the trial court's admission of statements he made while in a custodial interview. Defendant argued that his statement “[w]here’s the lawyer?” was inadmissible because the officers continued the interrogation without clarifying a vague invocation of his right to counsel. A statement that is “tenuous or equivocal in isolation may be a sufficient request for counsel when evaluated in the context of all of the circumstances.” State v. Brooke, 276 Or App 885, 892 (2016). The Court of Appeals held that a reasonable officer should have known the defendant’s question was an equivocal invocation of his right to counsel that required clarification. The Court further concluded that the error was not harmless. Reversed and remanded. 

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