Last April, Judge Blumenfeld ruled that the Queens District Attorney’s pre-arraignment interview program is unethical. In the program Queens prosecutors routinely meet with suspects after arrest while they are held in central booking – before they are arraigned and before a lawyer is assigned to represent them. Prosecutors inform suspects of their Miranda rights, but the prosecutors also suggest that suspects provide information to enable the prosecutors to investigate the charges. After consultation with Cardozo Law School ethics professor Ellen Yaroshefsky, Judge Blumenfeld held that the practice violated Rule 8.4 (c) of the ABA Rules of Professional Conduct. The Queens District Attorney’s office brought an article 78 to prevent Judge Blumenfeld from imposing sanctions. The Appellate Division granted the Article 78, but no court had addressed the constitutional question until last week when the Appellate Division, Second Department held in People v. Dunbar, No. 2010-04786 that the questioning used by the Queens office
adds information and suggestion to the Miranda warnings which prevent them from effectively conveying to suspects their rights…. When the clear and unequivocal warnings devised in Miranda are combined with the information and suggestion contained in the preamble, the message conveyed to suspects is muddled and ambiguous.