U.S. Sixth Circuit - The FindLaw 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Dixon v. Houk, 08-4019

Issue of coerced confession in a death penalty case

Dixon v. Houk, 08-4019, concerned a defendant's petition for habeas relief from his murder conviction and a sentence of death, claiming that his confession was coerced in violation of Miranda.

In granting the petition, the court held that the Ohio Supreme Court unreasonably applied Miranda in refusing to require the police to terminate interrogation upon exercise of the right to have a lawyer present and in allowing the police to demand involuntary answers by re-instituting the questioning without warnings.  Further, the Ohio Supreme Court unreasonably applied Oregon v. Elstad by holding that the deliberate, planned refusal to warn, followed by warnings after confession should be treated the same as the momentary, innocent failure to warn in Elstad.  Lastly, the Ohio Supreme Court's ruling that defendant's confession was voluntary resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of facts presented in the state court proceeding, because the "admonition" that defendant should "cut a deal" was not simply "an admonition to tell the truth," rather, it was part of the coercive strategy to get defendant to confess involuntarily.

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