11. A final example of this rule is U.S. v. Lacy, 16 MJ 777 (ACMR, 1983). A
CID agent was told by medical personnel at the Nuernberg Army Hospital that the
accused's 11-week-old daughter had died of head injuries which she had
sustained earlier that day. The agent was told that the father (the accused)
had brought the child in for treatment, saying she had fallen "from a couch
onto a hard floor after he had left her unattended." The agent concluded that
"we might have something more than an accidental death."
learned that the child's injuries "included scratches and bruises of the body,
a bruise over one eye and three bruises of the skull." A pathologist told the
investigator of a medical study of 300 infants who had fallen from a height of
three feet or less. None had even needed hospitalization. CID then requested
that necessary action be taken to preserve the body, and took action to seize
The accused was subsequently questioned without having been
informed of his rights.
12. The court, faced with these facts, held that "there was more than ample
evidence" to focus the agent's attention on the accused.
The facts "should
have compelled the conclusion that accidental death was improbable."
agent's actions to preserve the body and seize the couch "reflect his
recognition of appellant as a suspect.
Therefore, he should have given
appellant the required warning." This is simply another example of a situation
where the interrogator "believed or reasonably should have believed that the
one interrogated committed an offense." U.S. v. Morris, 13 MJ 297 (CMA, 1982).
13. It is, of course, possible for an individual not to be a suspect at the
start of an interview.
Something he says or does during the interview may
change his status. He may contradict himself, make a proverbial "slip of the
tongue," etc. If the facts make the individual a suspect at some point during
the interview, then Article 31 is triggered and the interviewer must stop and
advise the person of his rights. U.S. v. Rice, 3 MJ 1094 (NCMR, 1977). As we
have seen, the one doing the questioning cannot blindly ignore the facts and
simply claim that he did not suspect the individual of anything.
PART F- THE MEANING OF "INTERROGATION"
The Meaning of "Interrogation." Article 31b, UCMJ, states that "no one subject
to this chapter may interrogate, or request any statement from an accused or a
person suspected of an offense... without first advising the individual of his
The term "interrogate" normally involves questions put to the
Military Rule of Evidence 305 states, "'Interrogation' includes any formal
informal questioning in which an incriminating response is either sought or
a reasonable consequence of such questioning."
Further, this definition
"broad enough" to include conversations or actions which could reasonably
expected to elicit a response which would be considered the equivalent
1. An example of a conversation reasonably expected to elicit a response arose
in Brewer v. Williams, 430 U.S. 387, 51 L.Ed. 2d 424, 97 S.Ct. 1232