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Commonwealth v. Lajoie

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Bristol

March 5, 2019

COMMONWEALTH
v.
WILLIAM LAJOIE.

          Heard: September 10, 2018.

          Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on March 14, 2013. A pretrial motion to suppress evidence was heard by Gregg J. Pasquale, J.

         An application for leave to prosecute an interlocutory appeal was allowed by Francis X. Spina, J., in the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk, and the appeal was reported by him to the Appeals Court.

          Tara L. Johnston, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

          Matthew Spurlock, Committee for Public Counsel Services, for the defendant.

          Present: Wolohojian, Lemire, & Englander, JJ.

          ENGLANDER, J.

         Prior to a custodial interrogation, the defendant was read Miranda warnings[1] from a written form that did not comport in all particulars with the language employed by the United States Supreme Court. As a result the motion judge ruled that although the defendant was advised of his "right to an attorney," he was not explicitly advised of his right to have an attorney present "during questioning." The defendant's videotaped statements were accordingly suppressed. We reverse, because rote adherence to the exact language of Miranda is not required, and because in this case the warnings "in their totality, satisfied Miranda." Duckworth v. Eagan, 492 U.S. 195, 205 (1989) .

         Background.[2]

         On November 7, 2012, the defendant was taken into custody at the Fall River police station, where he was interviewed by Detective Brian Cordiero about an incident that had occurred fifteen years earlier, involving sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of sixteen. The interview was audio and video recorded. The defendant admitted to having sexual intercourse with the girl but stated that she told him that she was nineteen, and that the sexual intercourse was consensual. When asked if he was the father of the woman's now fifteen year old son, the defendant stated that his name was on the birth certificate but that he was not certain he was the father.

         Prior to conducting the interview, Cordiero advised the defendant of his rights, which he read to the defendant from a form that the defendant later signed. Cordiero advised the defendant:

"[1] Yxou have the right to remain silent.
"[2] Anything you say can be used against you at ...

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