The Supreme Court unanimously held in State v. Trochez-Jimenez (No. 88557-0) that Miranda and its progeny do not apply when a suspect requests an attorney during an interrogation conducted outside the United States by foreign authorities regarding a foreign crime. Based on that holding, the Court rejected Trochez-Jiminez’s argument that statements he made during custodial interrogation should have been suppressed. Given the lack of case law supporting Trochez-Jimenez’s argument, the Supreme Court’s holding is not surprising.

In State v. Piatnitsky (87904-4), a five-justice majority of the Supreme Court struck another blow against Miranda rights. Piatnitsky purportedly invoked his right to remain silent by telling police investigating a murder that “I don’t want to talk right now” but that he would “write it down.” The five-justice majority held that Miranda rights must be invoked unequivocally, that Piatnitsky’s invocation of the right to remain silent was at best equivocal, and that the trial court therefore did not err in admitting Piatnitsky’s written confession.

Four justices dissented, reasoning that “I don’t want to talk right now” was a limited refusal to talk, that the detectives did not abide by that refusal to talk, and that the statement they prepared for him should not have been admitted. The dissent also concluded that the error was not harmless. Even under the dissenting analysis, the lesson to be learned here is clear: suspects who wish to invoke their right to remain silent must do so clearly and unequivocally. Otherwise, their invocation is no invocation at all.