In re P.M.P.

NJDC co-authored an amicus brief with the Urban Legal Clinic at Rutgers Law School that relied on the latest adolescent development research to argue that the New Jersey Supreme Court should extend juveniles additional protection at interrogation, including prohibiting questioning without counsel, and allow the filing of a delinquency complaint to trigger a juvenile’s right to counsel.

This case examined whether a juvenile delinquency complaint, filed at the direction of a county prosecutor’s office, is the substantial equivalent of a criminal indictment such that it initiates a formal adversarial proceeding and triggers a juvenile’s right to counsel.  Here, P.M.P. won a motion to suppress his custodial statements made to detectives after the state had filed a delinquency complaint, and after the detectives brought P.M.P. to the police station and interrogated him even though they had been specifically instructed by the family court judge to bring P.M.P. to the judge’s courtroom after his arrest, where a public defender stood ready to represent him.

The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the filing of the complaint and the obtaining of a judicially approved arrest warrant by the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office is a critical stage in juvenile delinquency proceedings, so that, pursuant to New Jersey state law, P.M.P. had the right to counsel once the warrant was issued, and could not waive that right except in the presence of and after consultation with his attorney.

Court: Supreme Court of New Jersey
Filed: April 17, 2009 (download .pdf)
Amicus Brief Discusses: Adolescent Development, Appointment of Counsel, Police Interrogation; Waiver of Counsel

Decision: July 29, 2009 (download .pdf)