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Name: People v. Rodriguez
Case #: B291137
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 09/23/2019
Summary

Trial court properly admitted defendant’s un-Mirandized statements to an undercover informant regarding a gang-related shooting that defendant made while in jail on an unrelated matter. Defendant, a gang member, shot and wounded a man. While he was in jail on an unrelated offense, police placed an informant in his cell. He made incriminating statements to the informant, which were recorded. No Miranda warning was given. The trial court denied defendant’s motion to exclude his statements and the recording was played for the jury. Defendant was convicted of attempted murder and other crimes. On appeal he argued admission of the recording violated his Fifth Amendment rights. Held: Affirmed. Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436, held that under the Fifth Amendment, courts may admit statements by suspects during a custodial interrogation only if they are first warned of their right to remain silent. However, Miranda warnings are not required when suspects give voluntary statements to someone they do not know is a police officer (Illinois v. Perkins (1990) 496 U.S. 292). Here, defendant spoke freely to a person he viewed as a fellow inmate. No Miranda warning was required.

The government did not coerce defendant into confessing involuntarily by planting an older gang member as an undercover informant in his jail cell. The due process clauses of the state and federal constitutions prohibit courts from admitting involuntary confessions. A confession is involuntary if, based on the totality of the circumstances, the defendant’s will was overborne. Defendant argued he was coerced into confessing because the informant planted in his cell was an older gang member who he was conditioned to respect. But this argument is based on anecdotal speculation with no evidence to support it. Defendant’s confession was not coerced and was admissible.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/archive/B291137.PDF