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Name: People v. Nelson
Case #: S181611
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 01/12/2012

A clear invocation of right to counsel under Davis applies to a minor tried as an adult. The 15-year-old defendant was tried as an adult and convicted of murder and five counts of first degree burglary. A motion to suppress his statements was denied and the confessional statements were a feature of the prosecution’s case. During police interrogation he agreed to discuss the case with sheriff’s investigators; affirmed that he understood the Miranda warnings; and never expressly asked for an attorney or to stop the interrogation. He was unable to reach his mother, but he did reach relatives who gave him advice. He later asked to be alone and officers cajoled him to state what happened in his own words. He then wrote out a full confession. The Court of Appeal held that there was in effect an invocation of the right to counsel based on his requests to speak to his mother; the Supreme Court here reversed. Under Davis v. United States (1994) 512 U.S. 452, 459, the suspect must clearly articulate the desire to have counsel present such that a reasonable officer would understand the statement to be a request for counsel. Here the minor never communicated a request for counsel nor attempted to stop the interview. The California Supreme Court found no reason to exempt juveniles from the Davis standard. [Ed.note: The United States Supreme Court has not ruled on this issue.]