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Court Refuses Use Of Incriminating Statement In Trial

April 30, 1990

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court today refused to let Coloradourt, without comment, let stand a ruling that also blocked prosecutors’ use as evidence of a rifle seized from the home of the man, Charles Cleburn of Fremont County, Colo.

Deputy Sheriff Don Adler went to Cleburn’s home Sept. 7, 1988, to investigate a report that someone matching Cleburn’s description had menaced a young man with a rifle.

Adler and a deputy who accompanied him were uniformed and armed.

Adler, who was on friendly terms with Cleburn, engaged him in what a state trial judge called ″sort of a ‘good ol’ boy’ scenario.″

Cleburn was asked whether he had had a run-in with a young man and whether he owned a rifle similar to the one the young man had described.

Adler then asked Cleburn to show him the rifle, but saioning criminal suspects who are in custody.

A state trial judge ruled that Cleburn’s comments and the seized rifle could not be used as evidence against him, and the Colorado Supreme Court voted 4-3 to uphold that ruling last Nov. 20.

The state Supreme Court rejected prosecutors’ arguments that Cleburn was not ″in custody″ when he made the incriminating remarks.

The state court also ruled that Cleburn had not voluntarily given the rifle to Adler. By that time, Cleburn ″had nothing to lose,″ the state court said.

″The prior relationship between one of the deputies and the defendant made the questioning subtly coercive, the defendant was in custody, and the defendant had already made incriminating statements without the benefsion over what amounts to police custody, they told the court, ″Definitive guidance is needed regarding what type of ‘seizure’ is necessary to trigger Miranda protections.″

The 20 states are Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The case is Colorado vs. Cleburn, 89-1232.