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‘Mommy!’ Isn’t A Demand For Lawyer, New Jersey Supreme Court Rules

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(The New Jersey Supreme Court building.  File photo)

(The New Jersey Supreme Court building. File photo)

David Madden David Madden
David Madden is a Philadelphia native with virtually a lifetime of...
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By David Madden

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — New Jersey’s highest court, in a 3-2 split, has ruled that a defendant who asks to speak to his mother is not necessarily invoking his right to remain silent.

The case in question involves a 2008 murder in Morris County, NJ. The 19-year-old suspect at the time was discussing the case with detectives but decided he wanted to speak with his mother before confessing.

Should the cops have stopped their questioning at that point? A majority on the New Jersey Supreme Court has decided the teen’s remark did not rise to the level of a request for counsel (familiar to everyone who’s heard a “Miranda” warning).

But Mount Holly defense attorney Mike Riley looks at the 52-page opinion and notes the dissent. A former Burlington County prosecutor, he suggests there’s enough wiggle room for both sides to make use of this opinion in future cases.

“The fact that he said, ‘I want to stop speaking until I speak to my mother’ — the operative words were ‘I want to stop speaking to you’ — and that point, they should have stopped,” Riley believes.

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