On October 30, 2023, we filed an amicus brief along with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers calling for the Colorado Supreme Court to recognize that a person held at a police station for two hours, restrained with bags over her hands, interrogated, and not permitted to leave, is in police custody, no matter how police characterize the situation. Officers from the City of Craig, Colorado Police Department found Rachel Niemeyer, sobbing and highly intoxicated, in a motel room with her husband, who had suffered a gunshot wound. Police officers took Ms. Niemeyer to the police station, zip-tied bags over her hands, and interrogated her for two hours without Miranda warnings. Ms. Niemeyer pleaded at least a dozen times to be taken to the hospital to see her husband, but police refused to do so. At some point, an officer told her a single time that she was not under arrest, but the police continued to detain her, refused her repeated requests to remove the zip-ties, and questioned her in an interrogation room with a closed door. Despite these facts of obvious police detention, the Court of Appeals concluded that she was not in custody and police were not required inform her of her Miranda rights before interrogating her.
In a context where police routinely deceive people as part of interrogation, overweighting officers’ description of events is dangerous to our civil liberties. We’re urging the court to consider the totality of Ms. Niemeyer’s circumstances, find that she was entitled to Miranda warnings, and overturn her conviction.