U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments today on whether the Tampa Police Department adequately advised Dewayne Powell of his right to an attorney in a gun case when they said, “You have the right to talk to a lawyer before answering any of our questions. You have the right to use any of these rights at any time you want during this interview.'” The case could affect police practices nationwide, the Miami Herald reports.
The Florida Supreme Court said authorities must expressly convey the right to have an attorney present during questioning. The Tampa police’s warning “suggests to a reasonable person in the suspect’s shoes that he or she can only consult with an attorney before questioning,” the court said. Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene, calling clarification of the issue “crucial.”