In People v. Long, 2006 NY Slip Op 01918, the Fourth Department considered the issue of whether a statement made by the defendant and the gun subsequently discovered as a result of the statement was properly suppressed by the trial court.
In this case, the defendant was stopped due to an expired registration. The officer then advised Mr. Long that the car was going to be towed and asked him to exit his vehicle. Mr. Long was then placed him in the back of the officer's patrol car, without any handcuffs, while he was issued a ticket. The officer later testified that Mr. Long was not free to leave at that point. He then asked Mr. Long if there was anything in the car that he should know about, at which point Mr. Long advised that there was a gun in the car.
The Court first considered the issue of whether the defendant was in custody when the statements were made. The Court stated that the relevant inquiry is what a reasonable person innocent of any crime would have thought if in the defedant's position.
The Court then held the defendant was in custody when he made the statements to the officer and had not yet been Mirandized, and thus the trial court properly suppressed the gun and statements. The Court also concluded that:
(T)he record supports the court's determination that the question to defendant was interrogatory and designed ... to elicit the defendant's inculpatory cooperation, particularly in view of the deference afforded the court's credibility determinations. Under the circumstances, the officer should have known that the question was reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from defendant. (Internal citations and quotations omitted.)
Not a particularly surprising decision in light of the facts set forth in the decision. I wonder why the decision was appealed and if there were any additional facts in the record that might offer a clue in that regard.
As an aside, the ADA in this case and I tried our very first jury trials against each other back in the late 90s. And, the defense counsel was my Business Law professor in college. It was an entertaining class, to say the least.