Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Teen Argues Miranda Rights Can’t Be Read to Juveniles in Midst of Questioning

Image showing a young person's hands and arms appearing as if they are handcuffed.

Police investigating a 2019 Cleveland shooting questioned a teenager in his home for an hour, then read his Miranda rights.

Image showing a young person's hands and arms appearing as if they are handcuffed.

Police investigating a 2019 Cleveland shooting questioned a teenager in his home for an hour, then read his Miranda rights.

Miranda rights are well known because they’re frequently recited in police and legal television shows. The right to remain silent, the right to an attorney during questioning, and the right to have an attorney appointed if a person can’t afford one. Also required is notification that any statements made can be used in court.

In 2019, a 15-year-old in Cleveland was questioned by law enforcement in his home. Detectives were investigating the shooting death of a 14-year-old. They were acting on a tip from local high school staff that the 15-year-old, identified as “T.D.S.,” had shot the other youth during an argument about a firearm.

T.D.S.’s mother and sister were in the home while he was questioned. T.D.S. denied involvement in the shooting for about an hour. At that point, he said he shot the 14-year-old accidentally. A detective read T.D.S. his Miranda rights, and the teen continued to talk. Police then took T.D.S. to look for the firearm, which wasn’t located, and to the police station for further questioning and to make another statement.

Teen Wants Statements Suppressed
In Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court, T.D.S. asked for the court to exclude his statements to the detectives. The juvenile court ruled the prosecutor couldn’t use what T.D.S. had said before the police read his Miranda rights. But the teen’s statements after his rights were read could be considered, the court determined.

T.D.S. was found delinquent for several acts, including what would be felony murder for an adult. He was sent to the Department of Youth Services until the age of 21. On appeal, the Eighth District Court of Appeals upheld his conviction.

T.D.S. appealed to the Supreme Court of Ohio, asking whether statements are admissible in court when made by a juvenile who is questioned first, then read the Miranda rights in the middle of the interview. The Supreme Court will hear In re T.D.S. at next week’s oral arguments.

Two-Step Interrogation Not Permitted, Juvenile Maintains
Miranda rights are based on the 1966 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona, which ruled that procedural safeguards must be taken to ensure a person’s constitutional protection against self-incrimination during a custodial interrogation.

T.D.S. argues the police used a “deliberate two-step interrogation” when questioning him. The approach is highly concerning when the suspect is a juvenile, he contends. He maintains that juveniles are unlikely to have clarity about their options after already making statements to the police or to understand the consequences of abandoning their rights.

The teen waived his rights after they were read, but he argues the circumstances show his waiver wasn’t voluntary. Three white, armed officers entered his home and stood in various doorways while talking with him – a short, 100-pound Black juvenile, he notes. He says the police told him the judge wouldn’t sentence him to life in prison if he admitted involvement. He also notes that his mother wasn’t with him when the police took him to the police station.

Teen Understood Rights, Knew He Could Halt Questioning, State Asserts
The Cuyahoga County prosecutor counters that the discussion before T.D.S. was read his rights wasn’t a custodial interrogation. The prosecutor maintains that the teen was free to move around the room and his mother was there. He wasn’t restrained or coerced during the questioning, and he had a level of understanding that led him to challenge certain comments made by police, the prosecutor notes.

The prosecutor argues that a reasonable 15-year-old would have felt free to end the questioning. And the evidence shows T.D.S. knew what he was doing when he waived his rights, the prosecutor maintains. The circumstances make clear that T.D.S.’s statements after his rights were read can be considered in court, the prosecutor concludes.

Watch Oral Arguments Online
The Court will hear three cases on May 2 and four more, including T.D.S., on May 3. Oral arguments begin each day at 9 a.m. The arguments will be streamed live online at and broadcast live on the Ohio Channel, where they are archived.

Detailed case previews from the Court’s Office of Public Information are available by clicking on each case name.

Tuesday, May 2
Death Penalty Appeal
In State v. Knuff, a Parma Heights man was convicted and sentenced to death for the 2017 murders of two people he was living with. Among the 24 legal issues he makes in his appeal, he asserts that he acted in self-defense after his roommates got into a fight. He also contends that pretrial proceedings weren’t conducted on the record and that the prosecutor improperly had witnesses testify about his earlier prison time, his relationship with his family, and his mental health. The prosecutor responds that the meetings referred to don’t have to be recorded and the testimony properly provided context for the defendant’s relationships and conduct.

Contesting Arbitration
A trash hauling company bought a used truck in Cuyahoga County, which came with a warranty provided by a North Carolina-based company. The haulers sued the truck seller and the warranty company when the truck had mechanical issues. The warranty company asked for the case to be sent to arbitration, and the trial court agreed. Instead of appealing the decision, the haulers dismissed the case and refiled it but only against the warranty company. This time, the trial court didn’t send the case to arbitration. In AJZ’s Hauling v. TruNorth Warranty Programs, the Court will consider if the hauler’s failure to appeal the first trial court decision meant the trial court couldn't make a different decision than arbitration.

Attorney Suspension
A Licking County attorney facing ethics charges objects to a proposed six-month suspension from the practice of law. The lawyer agreed to represent a man seeking early release from a four-year prison sentence. A woman who had a child with the incarcerated man received a call from the lawyer to meet him alone at his office. When she did, the woman said the lawyer coerced her into performing oral sex. She recorded audio of most of the encounter on her cellphone. When police investigated, the lawyer admittedly lied to the police, telling the officer the two didn’t have sex. He changed his story when the officer told him of the woman’s recording. In Disciplinary Counsel v. Carter, the Court will consider the attorney’s request that the six-month suspension be stayed.

Wednesday, May 3
Civil Service Laws
After serving 30 years in a northern Ohio fire department, the chief sought city approval to collect his pension and remain as the paid chief of the department. The chief retired in early 2020 and was rehired the next day. The union representing firefighters filed a lawsuit claiming that once the chief retired he created a vacancy. It says the position could only be filled by the competitive promotional examination process prescribed by state law. In International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 1536, v. Barbish, the Court will determine whether state and local laws regarding classified civil servants allow for the “retire/rehire” of a fire chief.

Utility Rider Costs
A northern Ohio natural gas distribution company agreed to invest $700 million in infrastructure and technology improvements between 2011 and 2018 with permission from state regulators to collect the money from customers later. In 2019, the gas company sought a “capital expenditures rider” to cover the costs. The regulators agreed to a 9.91% rate of return, allowing the company to pay its debt and earn a profit. Consumer advocates objected, arguing the rate of return was based on a prior rate plan filed 12 years earlier and didn’t reflect current market conditions. In In re application of the East Ohio Gas Company, the Court will consider whether the approved rate of return was justified or if the company will receive an improper $73 million windfall profit.

Substantial Impairment
A woman living at a Hamilton County residence for people who are blind alleged that the night supervisor had improper sexual contact with her in 2019. The supervisor in State v. Jordan was convicted of sexual imposition. The charge required that the offender had knowledge that the woman’s ability to assess or control his conduct was substantially impaired. The prosecutor contends that the woman was blind and was found to be unable to consent to sexual activity. Since the supervisor had interacted with her over his year of employment, he knew of her impairment, the prosecutor asserts. The supervisor responds that the evidence didn’t show she was substantially impaired in a way that was obvious to him.