People v. Bladel

Decision Date01 April 1984
Docket Number69615,Docket Nos. 69749
Citation365 N.W.2d 56,421 Mich. 39
PartiesPEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Rudy BLADEL, Defendant-Appellee. PEOPLE of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Robert Bernard JACKSON, Defendant-Appellant. ,
CourtMichigan Supreme Court

Brian E. Thiede, Chief Appellate Atty., Jackson, for plaintiff-appellant.

State Appellate Defender Office by Ronald J. Bretz, Asst. State Appellate Defender, Lansing, for defendant-appellee.

John D. O'Hair, Pros. Atty., Edward Reilly Wilson, Chief Appellate Asst. Pros. Atty., A. George Best II, Asst. Pros. Atty., Detroit, for plaintiff-appellee.

State Appellate Defender Office by James Krogsrud, Asst. Defender, Detroit, for defendant-appellant.

CAVANAGH, Justice.

The common issue presented in these appeals is whether statements obtained after a defendant has requested appointment of counsel at arraignment are admissible pursuant to the principles enunciated in Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 101 S.Ct. 1880, 68 L.Ed.2d 378 (1981), and People v. Paintman, 412 Mich. 518, 315 N.W.2d 418 (1982), cert. den. 456 U.S. 995, 102 S.Ct. 2280, 73 L.Ed.2d 1292 (1982).


Defendant Bladel was convicted by a jury in July, 1979, of three counts of first-degree premeditated murder. 1 He was sentenced to three concurrent mandatory life sentences. Testimony at trial revealed that three railroad employees were shot to death on December 31, 1978, at the Amtrak station in Jackson, Michigan. Defendant, a disgruntled former railroad employee, was the prime suspect. 2 He was arrested on January 1, 1979, and questioned twice by Detective Gerald Rand on January 1 and 2. Defendant was properly advised of his Miranda 3 rights before each questioning and agreed both times to talk without an attorney. Defendant admitted being in and around the station on December 30 and 31, 1978, but denied any involvement in the killings. He was released on January 3.

On March 18, 1979, the shotgun used in the killings was found. The weapon had been purchased by defendant two years before the killings. The police also obtained strong scientific evidence linking him to the killings. Defendant was arrested in Elkhart, Indiana, on March 22, 1979. He waived extradition after being advised by a magistrate of his right to a full hearing and representation by counsel.

Defendant was driven back to Jackson the same afternoon. Detective Rand questioned him again that evening. Prior to questioning, defendant was properly advised of his rights, agreed to talk without counsel, and signed a waiver form. He did not confess to the killings.

Defendant was arraigned on Friday, March 23, 1979, in the presence of Detective Rand. Defendant requested that counsel be appointed for him because he was indigent. A notice of appointment was mailed to a law firm that day, but was not received until Tuesday, March 27, 1979. Defendant was not informed during the interim that counsel had been appointed, although he inquired several times.

On March 26, 1979, two police officers interviewed defendant in the county jail. Although the officers were working with Detective Rand on this case, they were not told that defendant had requested counsel. Prior to questioning, the defendant was again properly advised of his Miranda rights. When he informed the officers that he had requested counsel, they inquired whether he wished to have an attorney present during questioning. Defendant agreed to proceed without counsel, signed a waiver form, and subsequently confessed to the killings.

Defendant challenged the admissibility of the confession and the three exculpatory statements at a pretrial Walker 4 hearing. The trial court ruled that all of the statements were admissible because defendant was properly advised of his rights and had knowingly and understandingly waived them each time. 5

On appeal, defendant challenged only the admissibility of the confession. The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's decision and affirmed the convictions. 6 People v Bladel, 106 Mich.App. 397, 308 N.W.2d 230 (1981). In lieu of granting leave to appeal, this Court remanded to the Court of Appeals for reconsideration in light of People v. Paintman and People v. Conklin, 412 Mich. 518, 315 N.W.2d 418 (1982). 413 Mich. 864, 317 N.W.2d 855. On remand, the Court of Appeals summarily concluded that Paintman and Conklin, when read in conjunction with this Court's remand order, "compelled" reversal. 118 Mich.App. 498, 325 N.W.2d 421 (1982). We granted the prosecutor's application for leave to appeal. 417 Mich. 885, 330 N.W.2d 846 (1983).


Defendant Jackson was charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, 7 and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony 8 in connection with the death of Rothbe Elwood Perry. He was convicted by a jury in February, 1980, of second-degree murder 9 and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder. He was sentenced to two concurrent life terms.

Mr. Perry was shot and killed in his home in Livonia, Michigan, on July 12, 1979, during an apparent robbery. On July 28, 1979, Mildred Perry (the deceased's wife) and Charles (Chare) Knight were arrested for the murder. Knight subsequently told Livonia police that Mildred Perry had solicited him to kill her husband. He, in turn, had contacted defendant. Knight maintained that defendant and another man had broken into the house and shot the deceased.

Defendant and Michael White were arrested on Monday, July 30, 1979, by Detroit police on an unrelated charge. They were turned over to the Livonia police at approximately 2 p.m. the following day. Defendant was questioned several times on July 31 and gave three similar statements. 10 Defendant admitted breaking into the house to kill Mr. Perry, but maintained that Knight had fired the shots.

On August 1, at approximately 10 a.m., defendant submitted to a polygraph examination after being advised of his Miranda rights. When defendant was informed that he had not passed, he told the examiner that he was the shooter and White had accompanied him. Defendant gave substantially similar oral and written statements shortly thereafter to Sergeant William Hoff, one of the officers in charge of the case. 11

Defendant, White, Perry, and Knight were arraigned at 4:30 p.m. that afternoon. During arraignment, defendant requested that counsel be appointed for him. Sergeants Hoff and Shirley Garrison were present when defendant requested counsel.

At 10:24 a.m. the next morning, defendant was readvised of his rights by Sergeants Garrison and Hoff and agreed to give another tape-recorded statement to "confirm" that he was the shooter. Defendant had not yet had an opportunity to consult with counsel. When asked whether he had been promised anything for his statement, defendant replied that nothing had been actually guaranteed, but something would be worked out.

Prior to trial, a lengthy Walker hearing was conducted. The trial court ruled that all of defendant's statements were admissible because he had been advised of his Miranda rights before each statement was given, he never requested an attorney during the interrogations, he knowingly and voluntarily waived his rights each time, no improper promises or threats were made by the police, and the statements were not the result of any illegal delay in arraignment. 12

In affirming defendant's conviction for second-degree murder, 13 the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's findings of fact. As to the post-arraignment statement, the court noted that the original panel in Bladel had found a knowledgeable and voluntary waiver of the right to counsel on almost identical facts. Edwards and Paintman were distinguished on the grounds that defendant asked for an attorney at arraignment, rather than during police interrogation. This request was "not made in such a way as to effectively exercise the right to preclude any subsequent interrogation" and was unrelated to defendant's Fifth Amendment right to counsel. 114 Mich.App. 649, 658-659, 319 N.W.2d 613 (1982). We granted defendant's application for leave to appeal. 417 Mich. 885, 330 N.W.2d 846 (1983).


Defendants argue that their post-arraignment statements were obtained in violation of their Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to counsel because they asked the arraigning magistrate for appointed counsel. To determine whether these statements are admissible, the following questions must first be resolved:

1) What constitutional right(s) to counsel attached at the post-arraignment interrogations?

2) What right(s) to counsel did defendants invoke when they requested counsel at arraignment?

3) What right(s) to counsel did defendants purportedly waive prior to their post-arraignment interrogations?


The right to counsel is guaranteed by both the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution, as well as Const. 1963, art. 1, Secs. 17 [421 MICH 51] and 20. 14 However, these constitutional rights are distinct and not necessarily coextensive. See Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291, 300, fn. 4, 100 S.Ct. 1682, 1689, fn. 4, 64 L.Ed.2d 297 (1980).

In Miranda, the United States Supreme Court declared that an accused has a Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment right to have counsel present during custodial interrogation in order to protect the accused's Fifth Amendment privilege against compulsory self-incrimination. Innis, supra, 446 U.S. p. 297, 100 S.Ct. p. 1688; Edwards, supra, 451 U.S. p. 481, 101 S.Ct. p. 1883. However, the Fifth Amendment right to counsel attaches only when an accused is in custody, United States v. Henry, 447 U.S. 264, 273, fn. 11, 100 S.Ct. 2183, 2188, fn. 11, 65 L.Ed.2d 115 (1980), and subjected to interrogation. Innis, supra, 446 U.S. p. 298, 100 S.Ct. p....

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  • People v. McElhaney
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    ...examination after his Sixth Amendment rights had attached and after he had invoked this right. In addition, People v. Bladel (After Remand), 421 Mich. 39, 66, 365 N.W.2d 56 (1984), aff'd. sub. nom. Michigan v. Jackson, 475 U.S. 625, 106 S.Ct. 1404, 89 L.Ed.2d 631 (1986), did not address the......
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    ...3, 106 S.Ct. 1404. And with respect to respondent Bladel, the State had conceded the issue below, see People v. Bladel, 421 Mich. 39, 77, 365 N.W.2d 56, 74 (1984) (Boyle, J., dissenting), and raised it for the first time before this Court, devoting only three pages of its brief to the quest......
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