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Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Miranda Rights – Equivocal Request

A pre-Mirandized question, “Where my lawyer at?”, did not require suppression of defendant’s subsequent comments.

We affirm the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion to suppress.

Before a police detective read defendant his Miranda rights, defendant asked, “Where my lawyer at?” After the detective Mirandized defendant, he made several comments, which the trial court declined to suppress.

Defendant’s statement –  “Where my lawyer at?” – was ambiguous and equivocal enough so that a reasonable officer could have decided it was not an invocation of counsel. It was not necessary for the detective to make any further inquiries and ask defendant to clarify his statement. Because defendant’s Miranda rights were not violated, the trial court did not err in admitting his statement to the detective.



(Konduros, J.) The only two conclusions to be drawn from defendant’s utterance are that he is either (1) stating he already has a lawyer and seeks his or her presence or (2) asking for the lawyer referenced in his Miranda rights (which defendant said had already been read to him before the detective did so). Defendant made a request for a lawyer. I would reverse the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress his statement.

State v. Jett (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-041-18, 6 pp.) (Paul Short Jr., J.) (Aphrodite Konduros, J., dissenting) Appealed from Florence County Circuit Court (D. Craig Brown, J.) LaNelle Cantey DuRant for Appellant; Alan McCrory Wilson, Mark Reynolds Farthing and Edgar Lewis Clements III for Respondent. S.C. App.


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