Clearly, there’s a bit of a cultural divide between the gritty streets of New Orleans and the plush chambers of the Louisiana Supreme Court.
And that might explain why the state justices denied a request to hear the appeal of a man awaiting trial who says remarks he made to police after he asked for “a lawyer dog” were used against him.
Apparently, the state Supreme Court didn’t buy his contention that he was asking for “a lawyer, dawg.”
So, for the lack of a comma in a transcript, he’s facing a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Asking for “a lawyer dog,” the state’s high court said, was an “ambiguous” request.
Here, based on police transcripts, is exactly what Warren Demesme told a detective:
“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.”
In an attempt to suppress what police said was a confession, Demesme contended that police denied his constitutional right to an attorney when they questioned him two years ago.
But to the Supreme Court, asking for a “lawyer dog” wasn’t a clear enough request to make clear he was attempting to exercise his Miranda rights.
Apparently, under the court thinking, he could have been asking to be represented by an actual lawyer dog — maybe an F. Lee Beagle or a Johnnie Cocker spaniel, or that lawyer dog who appears in recurring dog memes. (That’s him, above)
All of this would be laughable (or mildly amusing) if not for the seriousness of the case.
Demesme, 24, was arrested in October 2015 on allegations that he sexually assaulted two juvenile victims, including the rape of one preteen girl. He faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted of the rape charge, NOLA.com reports.
Justices voted 6-1 last week to deny the writ application of Demesme, who awaits trial in Orleans Parish on charges of first-degree rape and indecent behavior with a juvenile under 13.
Demesme was seeking to suppress a purportedly incriminating statement made to NOPD sex crimes detective Nijel Baddoo. Demesme admitted to sexually assaulting one of the child accusers but denied doing so to the other, according to arrest documents.
State Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton concurred with the majority opinion issued late Friday that Demesme did not clearly invoke his right to counsel.
Crichton cited a 2002 state Supreme Court decision that requires a certain level of clarity in a suspect or defendant’s request for counsel.
“As this court has written, ‘If a suspect makes a reference to an attorney that is ambiguous or equivocal in that a reasonable police officer in light of the circumstances would have understood only that the suspect might be invoking his right to counsel, the cessation of questioning is not required,’” Crichton wrote.
In both recorded interviews with police, Demesme was read his Miranda rights, said he understood them and waived those rights, Crichton said.
“In my view, the defendant’s ambiguous and equivocal reference to a ‘lawyer dog’ does not constitute an invocation of counsel that warrants termination of the interview,” he wrote.