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In re Art T.

California Court of Appeals, Second District, Seventh Division

February 11, 2015

In re ART T., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. ART T., Defendant and Appellant.

APPEAL from an order of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, No. FJ50686 Benjamin J. Campos, Juvenile Court Referee.

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COUNSEL

Center for Juvenile Law and Policy, Christopher Hawthorne and Patricia Soung for Defendant and Appellant.

Bluhm Legal Clinic, Joshua A. Tepfer, Steven A. Drizin, Laura H. Nirider; Law Offices of Cyn Yamashiro and Cyn Yamashiro for Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Appellant.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Lance E. Winters, Assistant Attorney General, William H. Shin and Corey J. Robins, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

FEUER, J. [*]

INTRODUCTION

In this juvenile delinquency proceeding, we hold that a 13-year-old boy’s statement-“Could I have an attorney? Because that’s not me”-made during

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the course of a custodial interrogation after watching a video of a shooting was an unequivocal and unambiguous invocation of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436 [16 L.Ed.2d 694, 86 S.Ct. 1602] (Miranda) and its progeny. In reaching this conclusion, we apply a standard of whether a reasonable officer in light of the circumstances known to the officer or that would have been objectively apparent to a reasonable officer, including the juvenile’s age, would understand the statement by the juvenile to be a request for an attorney. We conclude that a reasonable officer would have understood the juvenile’s statement in this case to be a request for an attorney.

The juvenile court should have granted the motion to suppress the statements subsequently elicited by police. Because the Miranda error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt under Chapman v. California (1967) 386 U.S. 18 [17 L.Ed.2d 705, 87 S.Ct. 824] (Chapman), we reverse and remand for further proceedings.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

A. The Shooting

On August 18, 2012, about 12:40 a.m., there was a shooting on the 1400 block of Alvarado Terrace in Los Angeles. Alex Castaneda, Saul Barragan and Leonardo Villanueva were shot. Castaneda died; Barragan and Villanueva survived. Two surveillance cameras recorded the shooting.

B. Defendant Art T.’s Interrogation

As part of their investigation into the shooting, the police directed their attention to defendant Art T. (Art), who was then 13 years old. On August 20, 2012, police brought Art to the police station where Los Angeles Police Detectives Julian Pere, Jeff Cortina and Michael Arteaga interrogated him.[1] Art’s interrogation was videotaped and subsequently transcribed. At the outset of the interrogation, Detective Pere conducted a Gladys R. inquiry for the purpose of determining whether Art knew right from wrong.[2]

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It was not until page 21 of the transcript of the interrogation[3] that Detective Cortina advised Art of his Miranda rights:

“DETECTIVE CORTINA: All right, Art, I’m going to ask you some questions and if you don’t understand let me know and I will explain them, okay?

“[ART]: Okay.

“DETECTIVE CORTINA: You have the right to remain silent. Do you understand?

“[ART]: Yes.

“DETECTIVE CORTINA: Anything you say may be used against you in court. Do you understand?

“[ART]: Yes.

“DETECTIVE CORTINA: You have the right to the presence of an attorney before and during any questioning. Do you understand?

“[ART]: Yes.

“DETECTIVE CORTINA: And if you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for you free of charge before any questioning if you want. Do you understand?

“[ART]: Yes, sir.”

Detective Cortina made no attempt to secure an express waiver of rights from Art. After giving the Miranda warnings, he continued to talk to Art and to question him about the shooting. He informed Art that his partner was going to show him something. Detective Cortina said, “[w]e’ve talked to a lot of people and there’s a lot we know. And so all we’re looking for is just the truth.”

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After talking to Art about “survival of the fittest, ” including turning on someone to save yourself, Detective Pere told Art that his “day just went from bad to worse because the reason that we’re actually speaking to you is because” someone “did you the same way.” The detective then showed Art the video taken of the shooting and said, “That, my friend, would be you.” Art denied that was him in the video and stated, “I’ve never killed nobody before.” After Art also denied any familiarity with the location, Detective Pere said, “Oh, okay. Well, I’m here to tell you, man, that’s the video of you being captured on the 18th after midnight.” Art said he was at home at midnight and told the detective to ask his mother.

Art continued to deny any complicity in the shootings. He said the clothes the person in the video was wearing were not his. He denied being on Alvarado Terrace and said he was with a friend in Arcadia. He denied even knowing where Alvarado Terrace was. At this juncture, starting on page 30 of the transcript, the following transpired:

“DETECTIVE PERE: Huh-uh. You weren’t in Arcadia. You were right there on Alvarado Terrace blasting on people.

“[ART]: That’s not me. I don’t know how else to tell you. That’s not me.

“DETECTIVE PERE: Okay. Well, I - you know what? We’re here to speak to you to get your statement. Now, if your statement is that that’s not you, don’t worry. We’re going to write it down just the way you said. That’s not -

“[ART]: Could I have an attorney? Because that’s not me.”

“DETECTIVE PERE: But - okay. No, don’t worry. You’ll have the opportunity.”

Despite Art’s request for an attorney, the interrogation continued with Detective Arteaga taking the lead. Detective Arteaga repeatedly encouraged Art to tell the truth so that he would not appear to be a “cold blooded killer.” He told Art that his mother was crying and had identified him in the video, when in fact she had not. When Art continued to deny his involvement in the shooting, Detective Arteaga said, “I’m about to leave. I’m trying to give you an opportunity to tell us the truth because right now it looks like you’re a cold blooded gang murderer. That is serious.”

In the 32 pages of transcript memorializing the interrogation between the time Art asked for an attorney and the time he confessed, Art continued to deny any involvement in the shooting. He also made multiple requests to speak with his mother and his girlfriend, but these requests were denied.

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On page 35 of the transcript, Art stated, “I’d like to talk to my mom.” Then, on page 44 he pleads, “Could I just talk to my mom, please.” On page 50, Art states, “Look, I just [want] to call my homeys, call my girl, get this shit over with. Let me do what I got to do. That’s all. Got nothing else to say.” On the next page he adds: “I’m not answering anything, dude, because everything I tell you guys is a lie to you guys.” On page 52 he again asks to speak with his mother: “Well, if you guy[s] think I killed him go for it. Think what ...


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