The Supreme Court Takes Up, and Accelerates, a Fifth Amendment Case

The Supreme Court announced that it has granted review in State v. Clark. The question presented, as phrased by the Supreme Court Clerk’s office, is “Did the admission of evidence that defendant asked for a lawyer when the interrogating officer asked him to exculpate himself, and the prosecutor’s comments during summations, violate defendant’s Fifth Amendment right to counsel?”

This case has an unusual procedural background. As the Court’s order granting review stated, the Court had originally denied defendant’s petition for certification, which raised multiple issues. The State had filed a notice of appeal, which remains pending. The underlying Appellate Division decision, an unpublished opinion by a three-judge panel, had reversed defendant’s convictions for murder and unlawful possession of a weapon by a 2-1 vote. The State appealed as of right based on the dissent.

Then, on its own motion, the Court reconsidered defendant’s petition and granted review only as to one question. The Court issued an “expedited, peremptory schedule,” ordering supplemental briefing that is to be completed by March 4. No further briefing may be sought and no amicus curiae motions may be filed. The Court ordered that oral argument be scheduled for March 28 or 29.