Sunday, May 31, 2009

Life Imitating Art or Vice Versa

Question: Does this not remind you of something?
Court Eases Rules on Questioning Suspects - "The ruling Tuesday was in the case of Jesse Montejo, who was sentenced to death for the murder and robbery of Louis Ferrari in September 2002. Mr. Montejo was arrested a day after Mr. Ferrari was found dead in his home in Slidell, La. Suspicion focused on Mr. Montejo because he was known to associate with a disgruntled former employee of Mr. Ferrari’s dry-cleaning business.

Mr. Montejo was read his Miranda rights, arising from the landmark 1966 Supreme Court ruling that a defendant must be told of his right to remain silent and to have a lawyer present virtually from the moment he is taken into custody. Under questioning, Mr. Montejo repeatedly changed his story, at first blaming the former employee, then admitting that he had shot the victim during a botched burglary.

At a preliminary hearing, a judge ordered that a public defender be appointed. The timing is in dispute, but at some point Mr. Montejo was read his Miranda rights again and agreed to accompany detectives to locate the murder weapon, which he had indicated that he had thrown into a lake.

During the trip, he wrote a letter of apology to the victim’s widow, using paper and pen provided by the detectives. Only upon his return did Mr. Montejo meet with his lawyer, who was furious that his client had been questioned in his absence, and was further incensed when the letter was admitted as evidence at trial.

Mr. Montejo’s conviction was upheld by the Louisiana Supreme Court, which reasoned in part that the protections of the 1986 Michigan case should not apply to him because, in Louisiana as in many other states, lawyers are assigned automatically to indigent defendants, removing any question of whether Mr. Montejo specifically “requested” counsel at his arraignment."

Answer: The second episode of The Wire where Bunk and McNulty pressurize D'Angelo Barksdale:
Meanwhile, McNulty and Bunk show up at the low rise projects to intimidate D'Angelo. They take him downtown to interview him but first Daniels insists that Greggs participate. McNulty resists, but slowly realizes she is a smart cop. They play to D'Angelo's vulnerabilities, convincing him that the dead witness Gant was a church-going family man whose wife is dead and whose three children — showings him a picture of Bunk's three kids to corroborate this — now have no parents. D'Angelo is clearly moved, and agrees to write a letter to the three kids, telling them he is sorry their father was murdered. As he finishes the letter, his uncle's attorney Maurice Levy shows up and berates him for writing or saying anything at all.

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