“I got drunk last night and admitted to what?” Asked one defendant, a little too late. I’m Amy E. Feldman.
In 2009, Hersie Wesson was sentenced to death for murder, partly due to his confession. But his lawyers claim that he was drunk at the time of that confession so it should never have been admitted at trial. Now, any lawyer—or really anyone who has ever watched tv—will tell you that you have the right to remain silent. But you don’t have to remain silent; suspects have the right to waive the protection, provided that a suspect’s confession is made voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently and isn’t because of coercion.
As anyone who’s ever been drunk will tell you—and as his lawyers argued—when you’re drunk, you’re not necessarily making voluntary or intelligent decisions so the confession should have been tossed. But the Court of Appeals didn’t buy it. They just found that without any evidence of police coercion, his choice not to remain silent was his own, as is the conviction and the penalty.