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Breaking Legal Developments

06-25-2001

Published by:
Peter A. Lynch, Esq.
of Cozen O'Connor
palynch@cozen.com
http://www.cozen.com

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:      This weekly newsletter covers:

  1. Ninth Circuit Requires Federal Officers to Permit Parent to Talk to Minor Before Questioning
  2. Pennsylvania Supreme Court Upholds Use of Evidence Collected by Insurer for Later Arson Prosecution


(1) NINTH CIRCUIT REQUIRES FEDERAL OFFICERS TO PERMIT PARENT TO TALK TO MINOR BEFORE QUESTIONING

In U.S. v. Female Juv., No. 50306 (June 22, 2001) (pdf viewer needed), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed a juvenile's suppression motion alleging her confession was tainted because federal officials did not advise her mother of her right to talk to her daughter before being questioned. The juvenile was stopped a port of entry. After the stop an inspection occurred where drugs were discovered. The initial information gathering disclosed she was a minor. Nevertheless, other agents later interviewed her without advising her mother she could talk to her daughter before they questioned her. The juvenile later confessed without having talked to her mother.

A suppression motion was denied by the District Court. The juvenile entered a conditional plea of guilty reserving the right to contest the confession. The Ninth Circuit reviewed the applicable federal statute 18 U.S.C. 5033. The Court held it was error not to advise the parent she could talk to her daughter before questioning. The Ninth Circuit Court held that error warranted suppression of the later obtained confession.


(2) PENNSYLVANIA SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS USE OF EVIDENCE COLLECTED BY INSURER FOR LATER ARSON PROSECUTION

In Commonwealth v. EFAW, J-151-2000 (June 20, 2001) (pdf viewer needed), the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reviewed the use of evidence collected by an insurer but later used in a criminal arson prosecution. The original investigation by the fire department did not indicate arson. Later the fire department made a request under the arson reporting act for material collected by the insurer. After that information was obtained additional documents were obtained by subpoena. Under the applicable statute the insured was to receive notice after the documents were produced to the prosecuting agency. That never occurred.

The trial court entered an order not allowing all of the evidence obtained by the insurer in the later criminal prosecution. The Appellate Court found that order was error and the evidence admissible. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed finding the order precluding use of the evidence was error. The court found the failure to notify the insured the evidence was turned over to the prosecutor did not warrant suppression. The court found the evidence should have been admissible in the arson prosecution.

Mr. Lynch can be reached at Cozen and O'Connor, 501 West Broadway, Suite 1610, San Diego, California 92101, 800-782-3366 (voice), 619-234-7831 (fax), palynch@cozen.com (e-mail), http://www.cozen.com. Follow us on Twitter at @firesandrain.

Please direct comments, suggestions, stories, and other items to the author by e-mail at palynch@cozen.com

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