4. Remember, Article 31 is not triggered unless there is interrogation or a
request for a statement.
U.S. v. Caliendo, 32 CMR 405 (CMA, 1962).
spontaneous statement involves neither.
U.S. v. Workman, 35 CMR 200 (CMA,
Even though it is incriminatory, "a declaration that is spontaneous,
rather than the result of action by a person in authority, is not within the
exclusionary rule of Article 31."
U.S. v. Miller, 7 MJ 90 (CMA, 1979).
Article 31 applies when the accused's statements "are not volunteered." U.S.
v. Dohle, 1 MJ 223 (CMA, 1975).
5. An interesting case is U.S. v. Rollins, 23 MJ 729 (AFCMR, 1986).
accused was an Air Force recruiter under investigation by OSI for "sexual
intimacy with AF applicants." The OSI questioned the accused on 3 July 1985,
and questioned one of his victims on 4 September 1985.
She told the
investigator that the accused had been trying to contact her by telephone for
two weeks, but that she had not returned the calls.
The OSI investigator
persuaded her to call the accused from the OSI office.
instructions to her were not to ask any questions, but to listen to what the
accused had to say and repeat what he was saying during the telephone
conversation. She did so. She later testified at the trial that the accused
"told her some people would be calling her and whatever she did, she should
deny everything. He further said he'd helped her with the test, but he was not
supposed to do so." At the trial, one of the charges was wrongfully attempting
to impede an investigation. The statement made by the accused was introduced
into evidence against him.
6. Concerning this statement, the court first held that the victim who talked
with the accused "was acting as an agent of the OSI during the telephone
conversation." At the same time, however, it further held that "she was not
questioning (him). To the contrary, she was returning his telephone calls and
attempting to determine why he wished to speak to her." The court concluded:
"Although obviously the OSI was hoping to gain some information in
furtherance of its investigation, this, in our view, was not an
interrogation which could have triggered the need for a warning...
It was a means to facilitate the receipt of a spontaneous statement
the appellant wished to make."
7. Here, then, there was no interrogation.
It was, instead, "a situation
where a suspect on his own initiative made a statement." The rights warnings
are not triggered unless there is interrogation. A spontaneous statement lacks
this element. As we have seen, as long as the investigator is not conducting
an "interrogation, he is not required to interrupt a person who is making a
In U.S. v. Lovell, 8 MJ 613 (AFCMR, 1979), during a
search of a suspect's room, the suspect approached his squadron first sergeant
and said, "Chief, can I talk to you?" The response was: "Okay, talk."
suspect then said "I don't know why I did it. I wouldn't have done it if I
hadn't been drinking." The court held that this statement "was spontaneous and
not prompted by any interrogation."