January 30th, 2020
Louisiana v. Alexander
Opinion Date: January 29, 2020
Judge: Jefferson D. Hughes, III
Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law
The Louisiana Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case to determine whether the court of appeal erred in reversing the district court judgment that granted defendant Donovan Alexander's motion to suppress an uncounseled statement. Defendant was charged by bill of information with possession with intent to distribute heroin, and possessing a firearm while in possession of a controlled dangerous substance. He pled not guilty and filed a motion to suppress statement. A DEA Special Agent testified that defendant was read his rights and waived them at the scene of his arrest and also prior to being interviewed at Police Headquarters. Specifically, defendant signed a DEA advice of rights form. While defendant was detained at Police Headquarters, police informed him of the search and recovery from an Orleans Parish residence. Defendant told officers that the drugs and gun were his and that he did not want the woman who lived there to be charged. This was the statement sought to be suppressed. At some point during the search of the residence, attorney Dwayne Burrell arrived on the scene, identifying himself to officers as defendant’s attorney and attempted to stop further search of the home. Burrell was told by officers that drugs had been found and that the defendant was being detained. Burrell told the officers that he wanted to speak with defendant and that defendant was not going to make any statements. The trial court ultimately granted the motion to suppress, reasoning that where there are allegations of police misconduct in connection to statements given by an accused, the State had to specifically rebut these allegations, and the State failed to specifically rebut the serious allegations made by the defense attorney. After reviewing federal and state authorities, the Supreme Court determined that when the police failed to inform defendant his attorney sought to speak with him and failed to allow his attorney access to defendant when the attorney was on the scene of the arrest and asked to see his client, the statement was inadmissible. Accordingly, the court of appeal was reversed and the district court’s judgment reinstated.
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