Kuhlmann v. Wilson Case Brief
United States Supreme Court
477 U.S. 436 (1986)
ISSUE: Did police "deliberate elicit" incriminating statements from D in violation of D's 6th Amdt. right to counsel when police placed an informant in D's cell who merely listened to D?
- D and 2 others robbed a taxicab company and shot the night dispatcher
- D was seen running away from the scene clutching loose money
- D then turned himself into police and was arraigned and placed in a cell
- Police had solicited D's cellmate, Lee, to merely listen to D and report back any info
- D looked out the window, saw the taxicab co., and then began making statements to Lee -- Lee only said "didn't sound too good"
- D moved to suppress statements as a violation of his 6th Amdt. right to counsel
- Trial Ct. denied motion, concluding that Lee "at no time asked any questions with respect to the crime" and D's statements were therefore "spontaneous" and "unsolicited"
- Ct. App. reversed
- Massiah line of cases: Primary concern of Massiah line of cases is secret interrogation by investigatory techniques that are the equivalent of direct police interrogation
- D must show that the police and their informant took some action beyond merely passively listening
- No 6th Amdt. violation: Ct. App. was incorrect in finding that the police's actions here violated D's 6th Amdt. right to counsel
- Lee at no time asked any questions but only listened to D's spontaneous and unsolicited statements
- Rule: Police and their informant must take some action beyond merely listening that was designed deliberately to elicit incriminating statements