New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department
Appealed from Onondaga County Court
Background: The defendant appealed from his conviction of two counts of murder. He argues that the court erred in failing to suppress recorded statements that he made to his father in an interview room at the police station after he asserted his right to counsel.
Ruling: The Appellate Division reversed. The court held that, in some circumstances a parent-child privilege has been recognized in certain circumstances and that the privilege is rarely more appropriate than when a minor, under arrest for a serious crime, seeks the guidance and advice of a parent in the unfriendly environs of a police precinct. The defendant was 15 years old at the time of the arrest and the police were therefore statutorily required to contact a parent when the defendant was taken into custody. The video shows the defendant asking for his father’s advice regarding obtaining an attorney. When the defendant invoked his right to counsel, the detectives left the defendant alone with his father. The defendant then conversed quietly with his father.
Sara A. Goldfarb, of the Frank H. Hiscock Legal Aid Society, for the defendant-appellant; Bradley W. Oastler, of the district attorney’s office, for the respondent.