Supreme Judicial Court (March 12, 2010)

The presence of an attorney during questioning, when combined with the opportunity to consult with the attorney beforehand, substitutes adequately for Miranda warnings.

The defendant was the suspect in a double shooting. Police followed the defendant to his attorney's office. A trooper approached the defendant, stated that he wanted to talk to him, and pat frisked him. The defendant responded that he was speaking with his attorney on his cellular telephone and did not want to talk to police until his attorney came downstairs. Two officers were also present at the time. A few minutes later, the attorney approached the group. The trooper told the attorney that the police wanted to question his client about an "incident in Winchester." The attorney responded that he and the defendant would go up to his office, and that the attorney would notify the police whether the defendant would speak with them. While waiting to hear from the attorney, the trooper received a phone call that the surviving victim had identified the defendant as the shooter. The two officers were on their way to arrest the defendant when the attorney indicated that the defendant was willing to speak with the officers about the incident. The officers conducted an interview of the defendant with the attorney present. The officers did not advise the defendant of his Miranda warnings prior to or during questioning. The attorney did not represent that he had advised his client of his Miranda rights. The defendant was subsequently placed under arrest. The defendant was given his Miranda warnings during the booking process at the police station. The defendant filed a motion to suppress his statements based on the fact that he was not given his Miranda warnings prior to the interrogation in his attorney's office. The motion judge denied the defendant's motion and the defendant filed an interlocutory appeal.

The Supreme Judicial Court agreed with the lower court's decision that, where a suspect has a lawyer present during questioning and a prior opportunity to consult with the attorney, adequate safeguards against involuntary self-incrimination and police coercion are present both under the Fifth Amendment and Article 12. "The Miranda warnings are not an independent right, but serve as a safeguard of the underlying right against self-incrimination. Michigan v. Tucker, 417 U.S. 433, 444 (1974). In the Miranda decision, the Court recognized that warnings are not the only permissible way to protect a suspect's right against self-incrimination in the custodial setting. The warnings are not necessary when "other fully effective means ... to inform accused persons of their right of silence and to assure a continuous opportunity to exercise it" are present." Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).