Thursday, November 26, 2009
Nebraska Supreme Court upholds juvenile's confession to a shooting homicide and declines to modify the "totality of circumstances" test for special considerations for juveniles, as the American Bar Association has recommended; also the police officers' characterization of the shooting as an accident did not mislead the defendant into thinking he was confessing to a negligent homicide. State v. Goodwin, S-08-1159, 278 Neb. 945 "While the minority of an accused is a factor to consider in determining the voluntariness of a confession, it is not determinative. Because the age, education, and intelligence of an accused are included within the totality of circumstances (test) of whether there has been a knowing and voluntary waiver of Miranda rights prior to a custodial interrogation, a court necessarily exercises "special caution" with respect to juveniles. Accordingly, we decline to modify the totality of the circumstances test for determining the voluntariness of Miranda waivers by minors we conclude that no implied promise of leniency can reasonably be inferred from the questioning techniques utilized by the detectives. There was no suggestion of any definite benefit which Goodwin could expect to receive in exchange for his statement. The references to lack of intent and a "tragic accident" were made in the context of the detectives’ efforts to persuade Goodwin to truthfully explain his involvement in the shooting. "