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Name: Saleh v. Fleming
Case #: 04-35509
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 01/03/2008

A phone call initiated by a suspect in jail is not necessarily “custodial” for Miranda purposes. Saleh was in custody for assaulting his nephew when police interrogated him concerning the murder of his ex-wife. Saleh was read his Miranda rights and asked for his attorney. He then began to cry and said he wanted the electric chair so he could join his ex-wife. The next day, Saleh placed a phone call to the officer and said again that he wanted the electric chair. The trial court found the statements made in custody to be inadmissable, but the statements made during the phone call the day after admissible. In Saleh’s federal habeas petition, he argued that the trial court erred in admitting the statements he made to police in the subsequent phone call. The appellate court had held that although Saleh was in jail at the time of the call, because he initiated the call and was free to end it at any time, it was not “custodial” and no Miranda warnings were required. The court here agreed, finding that incarceration does not ipso facto render an interrogation custodial. The need for a Miranda warning to a person in custody for an unrelated matter will only be triggered by some restriction on the freedom of action in connection with the interrogation itself.