asked the suspect if he had been advised of his rights by the military police,
and the suspect replied that he had NOT. The JDST investigator who said this
also testified that had the suspect answer "yes," the investigator would then
have gone to the military police and gotten the Rights Waiver Certificate. The
court further explained that when the JDST agents were unsuccessful in
obtaining a confession, they called in the senior JDST agent, who was the CID
operations officer. He asked the other JDST investigators and found out that
they had advised the suspect of his rights. He did not ask how many times the
suspect had previously been so advised by anyone else, and "was unaware of any
previous request by appellant for an attorney."
m. The court saw a problem with the case: "Bringing Harris in for an
interview without honoring his request for the counsel to which he was
entitled" was a violation of the rule that further interrogation was
The JDST agents "were not free to interview Harris after his
request for counsel unless he initiated a discussion with them."
explained that Edwards applied "even though the interrogator knew nothing about
the previous request for counsel and was acting in good faith." The fact that
the investigators were unaware of the suspect's earlier request for counsel was
The fact that the suspect had requested the lawyer when
questioned by the military policeman (as opposed to MPI or CID) was likewise
irrelevant. The Edwards rule applies "even when the request for counsel was
made to someone of a police agency entirely different from that of the
interrogator... Once a suspect has invoked the right to counsel, knowledge of
that request is imputed to all law enforcement officers who subsequently deal
with the suspect."
The courts fear that a contrary rule "would encourage
circumvention" of the law.
officers should be discouraged from violating the accused's constitutional
rights by failing to ascertain or advise one another whether those rights had
been previously asserted. The official conduct was at least negligent."
n. What about the suspect's negative response when the JDST investigator
asked him if he had previously been advised of his rights? The court explained
that, based on actual or constructive knowledge of the suspect's initial
request for a lawyer, "he never should have brought Harris to the interview
room before providing him with a lawyer.
In that event, the request for
counsel should not be (overcome) by a conversation which should not have taken
place after the request had been made." The court also held that there was a
possibility "that Harris misunderstood the question asked or that (the agent)
misunderstood the reply."
The suspect might have thought the questioner was
asking if he had been previously advised of his rights from a certificate, or
was only asking if MPI had previously advised him.
It was to avoid these
possibilities for misunderstanding that the "bright-line" rule in Edwards was
established. The rule is designed to provide "certainty of result" and prevent
confusion of the issues. The court reversed the lower court, and sent the case
back to the trial level for a determination of the factual issues.
o. The conclusion of the lower court was that the JDST investigator did
NOT really ask the subject if he had previously been advised of his rights.
What was left, then, was a "failure of communication" between the original MP