Criminal Justice

Quote

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"If y'all think I did it, I know that I didn't do it, so why don't you just give me a lawyer, dawg, 'cause this is not what's up."

—crime suspect Warren Demesme to police during questioning; the Supreme Court of Louisiana would later say his reference to a "lawyer dog" (as the police transcript rendered it) was too ambiguous to count as a request for counsel.

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  1. When this story first appeared, it got me to wondering how I would react to a surprise visit from cops planning to arrest me for something I didn’t do. I’m sure my initial reaction would be disbelief — “Me? Who do you think I am, and what do you think I did?” — and quickly spiral out of control — “I couldn’t have done it, I wasn’t even there” — when I should just shut up. Smart cops would feed the process at just the right pace to keep my rambling away.

    At what point would my mind realize I was being played and tell me to shut up? At what point do witness questions turn into suspect statements? When can cops legitimately charge you with obstruction of justice for not talking to them? Even if legally viable, you can’t just never talk to cops. What if you witnessed a car accident, or a purse snatching, or someone breaking into a house? If no witnesses anywhere ever talked to cops, how many crimes would never get solved? On the other hand, a nationwide witness strike might get politicians’ attention, and if it went on long enough, maybe they actually rein in cops.

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