Family Can Sue Over |Use of Coerced Confession

     (CN) – The 9th Circuit reinstated the Fifth Amendment claims of a Washington family who argued that their son’s coerced admission that he sexually molested a toddler was illegally used to file criminal charges against him.

     A federal court ultimately dismissed the criminal charges after finding that the confession was coerced and that the girl was incompetent to testify.
     Based solely on statements of the 4-year-old girl, Detective Jon Jensen interrogated the boy at school for almost two hours in December 2003, according to the ruling. Though the boy was read his Miranda rights, his parents were never called.
     After repeatedly denying that he touched the girl, the boy ultimately “confessed,” and his admission was used to file formal charges against him.
     The criminal charges were dismissed, and the boy’s family sued the city of Everett, claiming that his Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendment rights were violated because the boy was arrested without probable cause, police used coercive interrogation techniques, and the confession was used against him in court.
     U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly dismissed all claims, and found that the detective was entitled to qualified immunity.
     The San Francisco-based appellate panel agreed with Zilly on all points except the Fifth Amendment issue, finding that the boy’s statements were in fact “used” against him in a criminal case because they was “relied upon to file formal charges.”

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