Feb 28

U.S. Supreme Court: Hagerstown Man's Confession Admissible

Tags:

In a case that originated in Hagerstown, Washington County, the United States Supreme Court recently ruled in Maryland v. Shatzer that police investigators are permitted to re-question a suspect who has invoked his Miranda rights, but must wait until at least fourteen days after the suspect has been released from custody.

The case arose in 2003 when Michael Shatzer, an inmate at a Hagerstown-area state prison, refused to speak to detectives about child abuse allegations without an attorney present.  Shatzer was released back into the general prison population, and police closed the investigation.   Detectives reopened the case  in 2006 and re-questioned Shatzer, who was still incarcerated. Shatzer waived his Miranda rights and made incriminating statements.

Shatzer’s attorney moved to suppress the statements he made in 2006, arguing that, once a suspect requests an attorney, the police may not further interrogate the suspect until counsel is made available.  The trial court denied this motion and Shatzer was ultimately convicted of child abuse.  Although Maryland’s highest court, the Maryland Court of Appeals, held that the trial court erred by admitting the statements into evidence, the United States Supreme Court reversed this decision, holding that police officers may re-question a suspect after they assert their Miranda rights, though a fourteen day waiting period after the suspect is released from custody must be observed.