July 23, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: During Custodial Interrogation, Defendant Improperly Coerced to Testify by Threats of Deportation

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in People v. Ramadon on Monday, December 9, 2013.

CAR 4.1 Interlocutory Appeal in Criminal Case—Suppression of Defendant’s Statements as Involuntary.

The Supreme Court held that, in a suppression hearing, when a defendant makes a prima facie evidentiary showing of involuntariness, the prosecution bears the burden, by a preponderance of the evidence, of establishing that the statements were voluntary under the totality of the circumstances. Coercive physical or psychological conduct by the government renders an otherwise voluntary statement involuntary if the conduct plays a significant role in inducing the statement.

In this case, the trial court considered the voluntariness of defendant’s statements under the totality of the circumstances and concluded they were involuntary after the forty-two-minute mark of the interview. The Supreme Court held that the record supported the trial court’s finding that police conduct during the custodial interrogation played a significant role in inducing incriminatory statements defendant made starting at minute fifty-four. Therefore, defendant’s statements must be suppressed after minute fifty-four. The suppression order was affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the case was returned to the trial court for further proceedings.

Summary and full case available here.

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