The Fourth Department reversed defendant’s conviction and ordered a new trial after concluding defendant’s statements to police should have been suppressed. After defendant told police she needed to talk to a lawyer, the police questioned her further during a “smoke break:”
After answering questions for approximately an hour and ten minutes, defendant said, “I think I need to talk to an attorney.” In response, the first investigator stated, “Would you like to talk to one? If you think that, that’s fine. That’s up to you.” Defendant replied, “I need to,” before going on to state that she would never have bad feelings toward the boy and genuinely cared about him. The questioning then ceased, and the first investigator allowed defendant to go outside with the second investigator and a female Child Protective Services worker to smoke a cigarette.
While defendant was smoking in the parking garage, the second investigator engaged her in a lengthy conversation. Unbeknownst to defendant, the conversation was being digitally recorded by the second investigator. During the conversation, defendant made numerous admissions, all but confessing that she had engaged in sexual activity with the boy. * * *
… [W]e conclude that, although defendant’s statement “I think I need to talk to an attorney” may not, standing alone, constitute an unequivocal invocation of the right to counsel … , her subsequent statement “I need to”—made in reply to the first investigator stating “Would you like to talk to one? If you think that, that’s fine. That’s up to you”—removed any ambiguity and made clear that defendant was requesting the assistance of counsel … . People v Kennard, 2015 NY Slip Op 09729, 4th Dept 12-31-15
CRIMINAL LAW (STATEMENT MADE AFTER REQUEST FOR COUNSEL SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUPPRESSED)/EVIDENCE (STATEMENT MADE AFTER REQUEST FOR COUNSEL SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUPPRESSED)/SUPPRESSION (STATEMENT MADE AFTER REQUEST FOR COUNSEL SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUPPRESSED)