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Maryland High Court Affirms Common Law Prohibition On Improper Inducements

DateWednesday, January 26, 2011 at 03:05PM

Enoch Jermaine Hill v. State of Maryland, No. 149, September Term, 2009 (Maryland Court of Appeals) (Filed Jan. 26, 2011).

In an opinion filed today (available here), the Court of Appeals held that a detective’s statement to a suspect constituted an improper inducement.  The case was one of child sexual abuse, where a former youth pastor was the suspected abuser and the victim was a former member of the pastor’s congregation.

During an interrogation, a detective told the suspect that the victim “and his mother do not want to see you get into trouble, but they only want an apology.”  Believing  the detective was hinting that if he wrote an apology note, the suspect would not be further prosecuted, the suspect wrote a (nonsensical) letter of apology to the victim.  Because the suspect in the case relied on the indirect inducement, the suspect’s subsequent confession and letter of apology will be inadmissible in a new trial.

This case is important in that it reaffirms the place that Maryland’s common law prohibition on improper inducements has in today’s justice system.