- The Washington Times - Monday, October 5, 2009

In the first day of her first term on the Supreme Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor showed herself to be an active participant during oral arguments, speaking about three dozen times during oral hearings in the term’s first case Monday.

In the case argued Monday, which related to whether police can ever question a suspect after he asks to speak with a lawyer, Justice Sotomayor displayed a familiarity with criminal procedure sharpened during her years as a prosecutor and federal district court judge.

Justice Sotomayor sharply question Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler about a convicted child molester who told police in 2003 he wanted to speak with a lawyer before answering questions about possible new charges. A lawyer was never provided, and nearly three years later police, armed with new evidence, came back to question the man a second time.

“All right,” Justice Sotomayor said, “so what gives him an understanding that [a lawyer] will be provided the next time he’s questioned?”

Mr. Gansler responded that the police aren’t actually required to find a lawyer for the defendant.

Justice Sotomayor agreed, steering the advocate toward the point of her query, that “we tell the police they have to stop” questioning suspects.

Justice Sotomayor first participated in oral arguments last month during the rehearing of a case about whether a movie critical of then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton ran afoul of campaign finance laws, but the new justice spoke only a few times during those arguments.

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