SMITH V. ILLINOIS, 469 U. S. 91 (1984)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Smith v. Illinois, 469 U.S. 91 (1984)

Smith v. Illinois

No. 84-5332

Decided December 10, 1984

469 U.S. 91


Shortly after his arrest for armed robbery, petitioner was taken to an interrogation room and read his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S. 436. When asked whether he understood his right to consult with a lawyer and to have a lawyer present during the questioning, he replied: "Uh, yeah. I'd like to do that." However, rather than terminate the interrogation to meet petitioner's request, the interrogating officers continued the interrogation; ultimately, he made incriminating statements. Petitioner's motion to suppress the statements was denied by the Illinois trial court, and he was convicted of armed robbery. The conviction was affirmed by both the Illinois Appellate Court and the Illinois Supreme Court, which held that petitioner's subsequent responses to continued police questioning rendered his initial request for counsel "ambiguous" and that the officers therefore were not required to terminate their questioning.

Held: An accused who, during custodial interrogation, has expressed his desire to deal with the police only through counsel is not subject to further interrogation by the authorities until counsel has been made available to him unless he validly waives his earlier request for the assistance of counsel. Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U. S. 477. Where nothing about a request for counsel or the circumstances leading up to the request renders it ambiguous, all questioning must cease. An accused's postrequest responses to further interrogation may not be used to cast doubt upon the clarity of his initial request for counsel. His subsequent statements are relevant only to the entirely distinct question whether he waived the right he had invoked. Here, there was no ambiguity in petitioner's initial request for counsel.

Certiorari granted; 102 Ill.2d 365, 466 N.E.2d 236, reversed and remanded.

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