Judge Faults Simplifed Cautions, Suppresses Teen's Statements

, New York Law Journal

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A Queens Family Court judge suppressed a boy's inculpatory statements after faulting a police script that attempted to explain Miranda rights to juveniles with wording the judge said was "inaccurate at best, and misleading at worst."

Before questioning Edwin S., a detective informed the 13-year-old boy that if he could not afford an attorney, he would be given one without cost, continuing, "That means if you want a lawyer but do not have the money to pay for one, the court will give you a lawyer for free. Do you understand?"

But Judge Stephen Bogacz (See Profile) said the wording ran afoul of a Miranda warning's intent to tell detainees of their right to counsel during interrogation.

"For a 'reasonable thirteen year old,' being advised that assigned counsel would be provided by the court is tantamount to telling that youth that a free attorney would not be available during the police questioning," Bogacz wrote in Matter of Edwin S., E17794/12, saying the flawed script, combined with other circumstances surrounding the questioning proved "fatal to [the] voluntariness" of Edwin's statements.

In November 2012, a police detective met Edwin, his mother and stepfather at the offices of the Queens Child Abuse Squad.

Days before the meeting, the detective spoke on the phone with Edwin's mother, telling her that Edwin's cousin had made certain allegations.

The detective told the mother over the phone that Edwin would be arrested if brought to the station, but if she did not bring him to the station, he would be arrested at home.

The detective did not "affirmatively advise the mother she could have an attorney present when she brought in her son," Bogacz noted.

When the trio arrived at the station, the detective first spoke separately with the mother and stepfather.

The detective said the cousin made allegations of a "sexual nature," and she believed her.

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