State v. Geyser

Morgan Geyser was 12-years-old and suffering from hallucinations and active delusions when she was questioned by police without the presence of her parents or an attorney and ultimate charged and sentenced in adult criminal court. 

Juvenile Law Center, Center for Juvenile Law and Policy, and Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth filed an Amicus Brief in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in support of Morgan. Amici argued that courts must consider adolescent development when evaluating the validity of a Miranda waiver and the voluntariness of a confession and that youth cannot validly waive Miranda rights absent a meaningful opportunity to consult with counsel. The brief further urged the court to clarify the appropriate standards for assessing whether a 12-year-old can knowingly and intelligently waive her Miranda rights.

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals declined to rule on the validity of Morgan’s Miranda waiver, holding that even if the lower court erred in declining to suppress Morgan’s statements, “such error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt due to the additional, unchallenged and overwhelming evidence in this case.”