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Mike is in charge of a three-man narcotics unit. He is using a non-police informant to make a “confidence purchase” of narcotics in a local motel along the beach. (Note: A confidence purchase is when the offender sells a small amount of drugs to an informant or undercover officer so that the informant or undercover officer gains the confidence of the drug trafficker. This is done in hopes of doing a much larger deal at another date with the same drug trafficker, which would lead to a greater offense level of drug sale and a subsequent arrest).
Shortly after the confidence purchase happens, an unidentified Caucasian male enters the same hotel room. Several shots are heard, and when Mike enters the hotel room, the drug trafficker appears to be mortally wounded and lying on the floor. The rear window of the hotel room is open, and nobody else is in the room.
Mike goes to the drug trafficker and observe the severity of the wounds. The trafficker tells Mike that he knows he is going to die. Mike asks him if he is the main dealer of the drugs in this case, and he confesses that he is. Mike asks who the shooter was, and the trafficker identifies him as John Smith—a drug dealer who threatened him earlier for selling drugs in Smith’s territory.
The informant tells Mike that he is sure that John Smith was the shooter, even though he had already left the hotel room when Smith entered it. The drug trafficker was not advised of his rights prior to telling Mike that he was the local dealer.
Thanks to the quick response time of the EMTs and an extremely skilled surgical team, the drug trafficker survives the shooting.
If you were the prosecutor, what argument would you make to include the drug trafficker’s confession in the trial?
If you were a defense lawyer, what argument would you make in order to suppress the drug trafficker’s confession?
Do you think the testimony of the informant (the shooter must be John Smith) would be admissible in court? Explain your answer.