Garcia v. Long, No. 13-57071 [December 21, 2015]
After reading Garcia his Miranda rights the officer asked “now having [those rights] in mind, do you wish to talk to me.” Garcia replied with a simple “no.” Instead of stopping the interrogation, the officer continued to question him and at trial his incriminating statements were admitted against him. The California Supreme Court found that a “no’ response was ambiguous and equivocal in light of other statements made during the whole interview and denied Garcia’s claim. The Court found that “any reasonable jurist would have to conclude that “no” meant “no.” and found that it was both an unreasonable application of Supreme Court law and an unreasonable determination of the facts. Under the Supreme Court’s reasoning in Smith v. Illinois, which the state court failed to consider, the state court was incorrect in considering if the statement was ambiguous in light of the whole interrogation the “use of Garcia’s postrequest statements to call his initial “no” into question was ‘contrary to’ this bright-line rule.” The Court also ruled that using his prerequest statements to find his “no” ambiguous was an unreasonable determination of the facts and application of Supreme Court law. “[W]hether a request is ambiguous, ‘it simply cannot be manufactured by straining to raise a question regarding . . . a facially unambiguous invocation of the right to silence.’” Finding that the error was not harmless the judgment granting the petition for a writ of habeas corpus was affirmed.