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Name: Robertson v. Pichon
Case #: 15-16463
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 03/02/2017

State court did not unreasonably apply clearly established U.S. Supreme Court precedent by failing to suppress a suspect’s statements that he made after he asked for counsel in response to a request to submit to a chemical test. Police pulled Pichon over after receiving a tip that he was driving under the influence. He was ultimately arrested. At the police station, Pichon refused a breath test and blood draw and demanded to speak with an attorney. After providing Pichon with warnings under Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436, police asked him about a billy club they found in his truck. Pichon acknowledged ownership. He was ultimately convicted of driving under the influence and possession of the billy club. Pichon argued on appeal that his statements concerning the billy club should have been suppressed because they were obtained in violation of Edwards v. Arizona (1981) 451 U.S. 477. After exhausting his state remedies, Pichon filed a federal habeas petition, which the district court denied. He appealed. Held: Affirmed. The protections set forth in Edwards apply when a suspect invokes his right to counsel during a custodial interrogation. The Supreme Court has held that asking a DUI suspect to submit to a chemical test does not qualify as custodial interrogation. (South Dakota v. Neville (1983) 459 U.S. 553, 555.) As a result, the state court could have reasonably concluded that Pichon did not invoke his right to counsel during a custodial interrogation. While Pichon was later subjected to custodial interrogation, the U.S. Supreme Court has not held that a person can anticipatorily invoke his Miranda/Edward rights in a context other than custodial interrogation. Thus, it would not have been unreasonable for the state court to conclude that Pichon’s request for counsel was limited to his submitting to chemical testing.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: