Rainwater Law Group

Effective Criminal Defense

Mays v. Clark No. 12-17189 [December 8, 2015]

Mays v. Clark

Mr. Mays challenged his first-degree murder conviction on the grounds that his statements were taken in violation of Miranda and Davis v. California as his invocation of his right to counsel was not ambiguous or equivocal and should have been suppressed. The Court agreed that the California courts unreasonably applied Supreme Court precedent in finding that his invocation was ambiguous or equivocal. Mays’s statement that “My – my step-dad got a lawyer for me . . . I’m going to can – can you call him and have my lawyer come down here?” was not ambiguous or equivocal. The Court then held that in this case the finding by the California court that any Miranda violation was harmless, because (1) the statements would have been admissible to impeach Mays’s trial testimony even if they were obtained in violation of Miranda; and (2) the other trial evidence was so strong that Mays would have been convicted even if the statements had not been admitted, was not unreasonable under AEDPA. The Court conclude that the case was troubling, but giving deference to the state court decision they affirmed.

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