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Name: Clark v. Murphy
Case #: 00-16727
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 01/23/2003
Subsequent History: Opn. amended & rehrg. den. 6/10/03

Because the accused’s request for counsel was ambiguous, officers were not required to cease questioning. Here, appellant sold his step-mother’s car without her permission and the step-mother was now missing. After his arrest, appellant was read his Miranda rights and he stated he understood them. Appellant was then interviewed and admitted the he had stolen the car and that he had done so for money. Later that day a second interview took place, this time with a homicide detective present. This officer again read appellant his Miranda rights and again appellant answered affirmatively that he understood them. As this interview then progressed, appellant attempted to provide an explanation for taking his stepmother’s car and the detective pointed out serious problems with his story. Appellant then stated: “I think I would like to talk to a lawyer.” After further discussion appellant stated, “well, let’s talk about it then.” Soon thereafter he confessed to murdering his step-mother. His confession was admitted over Miranda objections in his trial for first degree murder. Addressing the question of Miranda, the court finds the issue a “close” one. However, comparing the statement, “I think I would like to talk to a lawyer,” to one the U.S. Supreme Court found ambiguous in Davis v. United States (1994) 512 U.S. 452 [“[m]aybe I should talk to a lawyer”], they conclude that it is not a request for counsel. If the statement fails to meet the requisite level of clarity, Edwards (Edwards v. Arizona (1981) 451 U.S. 477) does not require that the officers stop questioning. Addressing the issue of voluntariness, the court found the subsequent confession was voluntary. Assessing the totality of the circumstances, being kept for over 5 hours in a 6 by 8 foot locked, windowless room with no toilet or water facilities during police interrogation was not a coercive environment. Nor was not coercion when the officer told the defendant during interogation that a judge or jury would be “concerned” about whether he expressed remorse. It was not an implied promise for favorable treatment.