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Suspect's Lack Of Grammar May Have Landed Him In Prison

Warren Demesme, 22, has been arrested a second time by New Orleans police over rape allegations. After being arrested, Demesme told police to “just give [him] a lawyer dog,” leading many to believe that he has ultimately condemned himself to prison. The cause of Mr. Demesme’s demise lies in the absence of a comma during his invocation of the 6th Amendment Rights. This minor argument means that police can claim that Mr. Demesme made an unclear request for a lawyer, ensuring that the authorities are able to use everything he said at the time of his arrest as evidence.

The U.S. Constitution allows any citizen who finds themselves caught up in a criminal matter to have a lawyer appointed to them. Until the appointed lawyer is present, the suspect cannot be subjected to questioning by authorities. An Oregon defense attorney, Jason Short, has been reminding American citizens of their rights, handing out cards that individuals can use to give to police if they ever find themselves being arrested.

“I have been advised never to waive a Constitutional right protecting my liberty,” the card read. “I hereby invoke my 4th amendment right and do not consent to a search of any kind, my 5th amendment right to remain silent, as well as my 6th amendment right to an attorney. I will remain silent until my attorney is provided.”

Unfortunately for Mr. Demesme, his request for an attorney was not clear to police and was deemed to be too vague under Louisiana state law, which states that “if a suspect makes a reference to an attorney that is ambiguous or equivocal in that a reasonable police officer… would have understood only that the suspect might be invoking his right to counsel, the cessation of questioning is not required…”. Mr. Demesme told the police the following upon his arrest:

“If y'all, this is how I feel, if y'all think I did it, I know that I didn't do it so why don't you just give me a lawyer dog cause this is not what's up.”

Mr. Demesme’s lack of a comma led police to believe that his request for a lawyer was not definitive. Some state supreme justices have joked that Mr. Demesme may have been asking for a lawyer-dog, not an attorney, because, “the defendants ambiguous and equivocal reference to a 'lawyer dog' does not constitute an invocation of counsel that warrants termination of the interview and does not violate Edwards V. Arizona…”

Thanks to the comma, or lack thereof, Mr. Demesme faces a very lengthy prison sentence for his offences.

Internet users were torn on the subject, with some individuals believing that Mr. Demesme should “learn better English,” and should be “executed” for his crimes while other users believe that Mr. Demesme was in the right; Independent Journal Review user, ‘boastater’, simply stated “Nothin vague about it, he wanted a lawyer… This is lame, Dog!”

User, Ken Wade, remained impartial on the matter, joking that authorities “couldn’t find a dog that passed the bar.”

Source: Independent Journal Review
Photo: Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office, Jason Short

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