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Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

In Seattle: Jewish Federation Shooting Case Prompts Several Evidentiary Rulings

A number of evidentiary issues have been raised by the trial of Naveed Haq, who has been charged with one count of aggravated murder, five counts of attempted aggravated murder and numerous other crimes — including the state's hate-crime law — for the July 28, 2006, attack on the Belltown office of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.  Haq has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

The first issue revolved around Haq's 55 minute interview/confession to police, in which he discussed planning the rampage, his problems with Jewish people, and his bipolar disorder.  King County Superior Court Judge Paris Kallas found this confession to be inadmissible because Haq made it only after police detectives denied six requests that he made to talk to a lawyer.  This ruling makes sense because it is well established that "[o]fficers must cease questioning the moment a suspect makes an unequivocal request for an attorney." State v. Aronhalt, 994 P.2d 248, 251 (Wash. App. Div. 3 2000).

Defense attorneys also argued that other evidence that may have derived from Haq's statement should be disallowed as well, including search warrants of Haq's two residences.  Judge Kallas, however, said those searches were legal even though affidavits police swore to were "made with a reckless disregard for the truth."  Detectives, she said, had obtained information about the addresses from sources other than Haq's statement.  Thus, Judge Kallas determined that the evidence found pursuant to the warrant, which included gun receipts and Internet research into Jewish organizations, was admissible.  The basis for Judge Kallas' ruling is not entirely clear from the article on the trial, but it seems to me that she relied on the "independent source" doctrine, under which "[a] search warrant based on an affidavit that contains illegally obtained information may be valid if the affidavit contains facts sufficient to establish probable cause independent of the illegally obtained information." State v. Link, 150 P.3d 610, 617 (Was. App. Div. 2 2007).  In other words, while the police affidavits were invalid, there were independent sources justifying the searches.

The final issue is whether defense attorneys will be able to preclude the state's expert forensic psychologist from testifying about anything potentially incriminating that Haq told him during a court-ordered examination.  Defense counsel has argued that because the examination was ordered and Haq could not invoke his Fifth Amendment right to silence, any self-incriminating statements made during doctor interviews should be inadmissible at trial.  Judge Kallas has not yet ruled on this issue, but I think there is a good chance she will reject this argument.  This is because "court-ordered examinations regarding insanity have generally been found not to violate the Fifth Amendment." United States v. Davis, 93 F.3d 1286, 1295 n.8 (6th Cir. 1996).  There, are, however, several factors which can change this analysis, so I hesitate to come to any conclusions without knowing the full facts of how the examination occurred.

-CM

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