While talking to police during a voluntary interview over allegations of sexual assault of a minor, Warren Demesme asked police to "just give me a lawyer, dog." Last week, the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that Demesme was not denied his constitutional right to an attorney when police ignored this request because Demesme only "ambiguously referenced a lawyer."
Louisiana Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton wrote that Demesme was read his Miranda rights and subsequently waived them. "Nonetheless, the defendant argues he invoked his right to counsel," Crichton continued. "And the basis for this comes from the second interview, where I believe the defendant ambiguously referenced a lawyer."
Crichton cited a 2002 decision by the Louisiana Supreme Court that gives police officers leeway to deny a request for a lawyer and continue questioning if the request is deemed "ambiguous or equivocal." Per that ruling, Crichton concluded: "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."
Crichton's argument does not address the fact that the transcription of Demesme's statement does not include a comma between the two words in question. Demesme's request to police was written in the following manner: "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." However, a likely more accurate interpretation of Demesme's remarks may have read, "Just give me a lawyer, dog."