United States v. Rawls, 7263.

Citation322 A.2d 903
Decision Date24 July 1974
Docket NumberNo. 7263.,7263.
PartiesUNITED STATES, Appellant, v. Jerome RAWLS, Appellee.
CourtCourt of Appeals of Columbia District

N. Richard Janis, Asst. U. S. Atty., with whom Harold H. Titus, Jr., U. S. John A. Terry and Lawrence P. Lataif, Asst. U. S. Attys., were on the brief, for appellant.

George C. Dreos, Washington, D. C., appointed by this court, with whom Jeffrey Freund, Washington, D. C., also appointed by this court, was on the brief, for appellee.

Before REILLY, Chief Judge, and GALLAGHER and NEBEKER, Associate Judges.

GALLAGHER, Associate Judge:

This case is here on an appeal of the government1 from an order suppressing inculpatory statements of Jerome Rawls prior to his trial on an indictment charging armed robbery,2 robbery,3 assault with a dangerous weapon,4 and obstructing justice.5 We reverse.

The facts were developed at the hearing upon the motion to suppress and are not in dispute.6 Officer Sullivan was patrolling in a police cruiser when a driver in a van passing in the opposite direction flagged him down. The driver advised that he was an employee of The Washington Post, that one of his paperboys had been robbed and that they had just observed one of the perpetrators walking down the street carrying an armload of clothes. These two joined Officer Sullivan and his partner and together they proceeded to search the area until the victim identified appellee as his assailant. Appellee was placed under arrest and transported to the Fifth District Substation.

After arrival at the substation Officer Sullivan began processing appellee, seventeen years old, and advised him of his rights by reading from the card, Form PD-47,7 carried by most police officers. Appellee said nothing of an incriminating nature. Officer Sullivan then learned that a gun had been used in the robbery and, in accordance with police practice, appellee was handcuffed and taken to the robbery squad office to be processed. During the ride to the robbery squad office appellee was again advised of his rights and it was at this time that he made the incriminating statements which the government, by this appeal, in effect asserts are "a substantial proof of the charge pending against the defendant." D.C.Code 1973, § 23-104(a) (1).

Officer Sullivan testified as to the warnings he had given appellee prior to eliciting the incriminating statements:

Q. [by the prosecutor]: Now, Detective Sullivan, going back to your statement that you advised him of his rights, would you tell His Honor exactly what you said to Mister Rawls?

A. In the Fifth District Substation I read him the PD 47, I believe it is, which is the rights card, then I also read it to him again in the vehicle on the way to the Robbery Squad. I read him the words verbatim and then also explained [them] to him. I asked him several questions and explained his rights to him more clearly.

Q. All right. Would you tell His Honor what those questions were and what Mister Rawls answers were ? A. I asked him if he had been arrested before, which I knew that he had, and he stated he had.

THE COURT: What was that ?

DETECTIVE SULLIVAN: If he had been arrested before in the past. I

asked him if he knew he had a right to a lawyer. And that if he couldn't afford a lawyer that he would be provided one and I asked him if he had one in the past and he stated that he had. I explained to him that the lawyer would be [provided] the next day. . . . I then asked him if he understood his rights, he said he did.

Q. Did you ascertain whether or not Mister Rawls whether — did you ascertain from Mister Rawls whether he — whether or not he had been advised of his rights in connection with any previous matters?

* * * * * *

A. Yes, sir; I had asked [him] if he had been read his rights in the past and he said that he had. I went along with the fact that he had been arrested before.

Q. Do you know, Detective Sullivan, how many times in the past Mister Rawls had been arrested before ?

A. I believe it's four or five times, in that area.

Q. Detective, did you ask Mister Rawls to sign the PD Form 47?

A. At the Robbery Squad I had him sign the PD 47 and answer the questions which are on the back of the form. He was again read his rights at the Robbery Squad. [Emphasis added.]

After the conclusion of direct and crossexamination the court made its own inquiry into the warnings given by Officer Sullivan:

Q. [By the Court] On your way down to the Robbery Squad, with the defendant, you stated that `you questioned him. Among other things, you said you asked him whether he wanted — whether he wanted a lawyer?

A. That's correct.

Q. What did he say ?

A. He said no. Your Honor, I don't know if I asked him whether he wanted one, but I told him he could have one if he wanted to, and he didn't have to say anything until he spoke to a lawyer. I'm not sure whether I asked him whether he wanted a lawyer or not.

Q. You told him that if he wanted a lawyer, he'll get one the next day?

A. Right. He'll get one when he goes to Court.

Q. Was there any discussion about his having a lawyer the same day ?

A. I don't believe so, Your Honor. [Emphasis added.]

The government's second witness, Officer Huff, then took the stand. At the robbery squad office appellee and Officer Sullivan met Officer Huff, who, using the standard form, advised appellee of his rights again. Appellee signed the form indicating that he had been advised of his rights. Officer Huff then overheard Officer Sullivan talking with appellee "about a confession that he had apparently already made" and he heard appellee further explain the crime.8

The court then heard argument on the motion and thereafter ordered the statement suppressed. The court's reasons were as follows:

. . . If . . . he can't get a lawyer until tomorrow, and he can't afford a lawyer, then he is being denied equal protection, because a [d]efendant with money could get a lawyer at that time.

All I have before me is the testimony that the police stated that he can't get a lawyer until tomorrow.

Now I don't see that on the rights card, there are cases which hold that if the [d]efendant requests a lawyer the police should make every effort to get him a lawyer then, not the next day, but then. And, I think that we get — we entered into a perilous course when the law permits and sanctions this interpretation to being grafted on to Miranda. I think it's calculated to confound a defendant in the exercise of his rights. It's not calculated to elucidate. It's not calculated to clarify. It's . . . calculated to confound.

The court suppressed the statements and the government appeals.

To begin with, Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966) states:

[T]he accused must be adequately and effectively apprised of his rights . . . [384 U.S. at 467, 86 S.Ct. at 1624.]

No effective waiver of the right to counsel during interrogation can be recognized unless specifically made after the warnings we here delineate have been given. [384 U.S. at 470, 86 S.Ct. at 1626.]

[A]n individual held for interrogation must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation . . . [384 U.S. at 471, 86 S. Ct. at 1626.]

[I]t is necessary to warn him not only that he has the right to consult with an attorney, but also that if he is indigent a lawyer will be appointed for him. Without this additional warning, the admonition of the right to consult with counsel would often be understood as meaning only that he can consult with a lawyer, if he has one or has the funds to obtain one. The warning of a right to counsel would be hollow if not couched in terms that would convey to the indigent — the person most often subjected to interrogation — the knowledge that he too has a right to have counsel present. [384 U.S. at 473, 86 S.Ct. at 1627.]

This does not mean, as some have suggested, that each police station must have a "station house lawyer" present at all times to advise prisoners. It does mean, however, that if police propose to interrogate a person they must make known to him that he is entitled to a lawyer and that if he cannot afford one, a lawyer will be provided for him prior to any interrogation. If authorities conclude that they will not provide counsel during a reasonable period of time in which investigation in the field is carried out, they may refrain from doing so without violating the person's Fifth

Amendment privilege so long as they do not question him during that time. [384 U.S. at 474, 86 S.Ct. at 1628.]

The warnings required and the waiver necessary in accordance with our opinion today are, in the absence of a fully effective equivalent, prerequisites to the admissiblity of any statement made by a defendant. [384 U.S. at 476, 86 S.Ct. at 1629.]

The government characterizes the trial judge's concern as being centered upon the stated inability of the police to provide appellee with an attorney immediately (emphasis by appellant); and the government points to the caveat in Miranda that the opinion did not stand for the proposition that police must have a "station house lawyer" always present to advise prisoners. On the other hand, appellee characterizes the trial judge's concern as being centered upon the inconsistency of advising a defendant on the one hand that he may have court-appointed counsel with him during questioning and, on the other hand, that such counsel will not be provided until the next day, pointing out Miranda's caution that only by effective explanation to the indigent of his right to appointed counsel can there be assurance that he was truly in a position to exercise it.

The government cites substantial authority for the proposition that the embellishment here placed upon the standard Miranda warning was not erroneous.9 Appellee cites other decisions for the contrary...

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4 cases
  • In re S.W., 12–FS–434.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • September 17, 2015
    ...whether the defendant made a knowing and intelligent waiver of his rights and that the waiver was voluntary.” See United States v. Rawls,322 A.2d 903, 907–08 (D.C.1974)(concluding that a police officer's “unnecessary embellishment on the Mirandawarning” that “a lawyer would not be provided ......
  • In re S.W., 12-FS-434
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • September 17, 2015
    ...whether the defendant made a knowing and intelligent waiver of his rights and that the waiver was voluntary." See United States v. Rawls, 322 A.2d 903, 907-08Page 16(D.C. 1974) (concluding that a police officer's "unnecessary embellishment on the Miranda warning" that "a lawyer would not be......
  • Di Giovanni v. US, 99-CF-93.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • November 21, 2002
    ...at that point, right? A. Basically yes. The government urges that the trial court properly relied on our decision in United States v. Rawls, 322 A.2d 903 (D.C. 1974) for the proposition that Sergeant Cortright's embellishments and modifications to the standard Miranda warnings did not const......
  • Henson v. U.S.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • September 19, 1989
    ...may result in confusion on the part of suspects as to their Miranda rights, this may then require examination. United States v. Rawls, 322 A.2d 903, 907 n. 12 (D.C. 1974). In Duckworth, the Court noted that "[a]t oral argument, the United States said that the federal law enforcement officia......

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