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DEVELOPMENTALASSESSMENT: CRISTlAN FERNANDEZ (dob_
At the request of his attorneys, r interviewed Cristian Fernandez at Duval Juvenile Detention Center in Jacksonville, Florida on January 9 and 10,2012, (for a total of about 13 hours), interviewed his mother Bianneln Susana at the Duval County Jail on January 10,2012, interviewed his aunt_at her home in Jacksonville on January 9, 2012, interviewed his teacher, therapist arid unit staff person at the detention center on January 10,2012, and reviewed his school records, DCF records, police reports and transcripts and DVDs of p-olice interrogations. My opinions are based on the materials I reviewed and clinical interviews organized around a developmental assessment approach that I utilize with juveniles to evaluate the effects of their immaturity, disabilities and trauma on their behavior and thought processes, as well as to propose rehabilitation services. Crisrian was II depressed, childish, emotionally fragile 12-year old at the time o.f the interviews. He worked hard through long hours of interviewing, despite the painful topics he was asked about. At times in the interviews he was highly anxious, particularly talking about his home life. Cristian showed an unusual combination of being both emotionally less mature than his age--he is dependent and needs n lot of positive feedback-and feeling a sense of responsibility. [I was evident that Cristian did not want to say anything negative about his mother. This report presents the impact of Cristian 's immature thinking, cognitive impairments, and trauma on his response 10 police interrogation on 3/15/11 and 6123111.
I COOJprehenSion ofMr'am<iq Rights by Children
It is well-recognized knowingly, intelligently that the immature decision-making of pre-teens and teens impairs their ability to age 14 and and voluntarily waive Miranda rights. I Research has found that juveniles
under generally do not comprehend Miranda rights well enough to waive them knowingly and intelligently2 Grisso, who has studied juvenile competency and understanding of rights extensively, describes different abilities necessary for young people to knowingly waive their rights: the ability to comprehend iiie Miranda warnings, the ability to grasp the significance ofrights in the context of the legal process, and the ability to process information in arriving at II decision about waiver.3 He notes that the concept of legal right is understood differently by youth at various stages of development. Decisionrnak ing about rights requires not only cognitive capacity, but also judgment concerning the weights to be placed on the consequences of one's possible choices. Judgment may be influenced by factors that are related to psychosocial development: for example, time perspective that al lows one to consider the longer-range future and attitudes toward risk taking and personal vulnerability. To the extent that these psychological characteristics are still developing in adolescence, youths are at greater risk than adults of making decisions based on incomplete development in their perspective on the consequences of their Miranda waiver decisions. How well youths are ab Ie to deploy their abilities after they are acquired may be dependent at any given time on their emotional states, such as moodiness, the influences of mental disorder, or stress associated with conditions under which the Miranda waiver decision is being made ... there is considerable evidence that adolescents on average may have greater fluctuations in mood and emotion than adults and are therefore at greater risk of difficulties in understanding
1 Grisso, T., Steinberg, L., Cauffman, E., Scott, E:, Graham, S., Lcxccn, F.. Reppucci, N" & Schwartz, R. (2003). Juveniles' Competence to Stand Trial, Law and III/man Hdluvior. 27:4. 2 Rogers, R" Hazelwood, LL" Sewell, K.W. & Shuman, D. W. (2(108), Tc Comprehensibility and Content of Juvenile Mirande Warnings. Psychology. I'Clbli~'I>lIlicy & LnH', 14 (1),63·87. Owen·Kostdnik, L Reppucci, N.D., & Meyer, J. R. (2006). Testimony and Interrogation of Minors: Assuuipticns about Maturity lind Morality, American P.\')'CholugisJ. 61(4},2lt6-304. J Grisso, T. (l991l),Foren.\·ic Evaluation of 'Juveniles, Sarasota, Florida: Professional Resource Press, p. 50,
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or decisionmaking as a result of current emotional states.,,4 Feld concluded that, "Delinquents waive Miranda rights without appreciating the legal significance of confession" He argues for special.Miranda procedural safeguards to protect youth from "their own immaturity ...inexperience and vulnerability to adult coercioll.,,5 2. Police interroBation of Cristiau on 3/15/11 and 6123/11. J 2-ycar old Cristian was questioned _himselfbY a female officer after 2 AM on 3/15/11 at the police station after his 2-year old half-brother was admitted to the hospital with a severe head injury. The officer had talked previously to Cristian about his brother ~at night (see p. 3, lines 28-9), not on tape. This reading of his Miranda rights was done at the second interrogation, with the officer saying she would explain each one but essentially repeating them without explanation: UF: The first one says you do not have to make a statement or say anything. Do you understand what that means Cristian? Deft: Inaudible. UF: Okay, this means you don't have to talk to me when I talk to you. And you don't have to tell me anything and you don't have to say anything. But you can say something. It just tells you don't have to. Do you understand what that means? Deft:Unhuh UF: Okay, so] wilI read it again. You do not have to make a statement or say anything. So that means that you don't have to talk to me, but r want you to talk to me. But you don't have to talk to me, okay. Okay? So you understand what that means? Deft: Vnhuh UF: Okay. This one says anything you say can be used against you in court. Do you know what that means? Huh? Deft: Vnhuh UF: Okay, that means anything that you tell me today, it can come back up later in court. All right, do you understand what that means? Deft Unhuh UF: The next one says you have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before you make a statement or before any questions are asked of you and to have the lawyer with you during any questioning. What that means is you can have a lawyer with you when I talk to you, but you don't have to. It just means that you could, you have that right that you can have one. Do you understand what that means? Deft: Vnhuh UF: The next one says, if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. That means if you don't have money for a lawyer, which I know you are 12 so that would be your Mom, you know, responsibility to get a lawyer for you. Urn, if you don't have the money for one, that we will give you one. Do you understand? Do you understand what that
Deft: Unhuh UP: Okay, the last one says, if you do answer questions, you have the right to stop answering questions at any time and consult with a lawyer. That means while you are talking to me you can stop at any time Okay, and ask for a lawyer. Do you understand what that means? Deft: Unhuh 12-year old Cristian was questioned by hirnselfby a female officer at 8:30 AM on 6/23/11 at the Police Memorial Building where he walked escorted in shackles from the adjacent jail (where he was housed) regarding sexual abuse of his 5-year old half-brother_The reading of his Miranda rights was done quickly without explanation:
4 Grisso, T., et, al,
f.lp. cit., p.
5 Feld, B. (2000), Juveniles' Waiver of Legal Rights: Confessions, Miranda, and !be Right to Counsel in T. Grisso, & R. Schwartz (Eds.), Youth on Trial, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 105; 120.The American Bar Association adopted II policy In 2010 urging the development of simplified Miranda warnings for juveniles to fit their limited verbal comprehension levels. http://www.amencanbar.org/contenr/dam/abalmigraledlleadership/20IO/midyearl daily _}ourmalllOZB.authcheckdampdJ
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Q You do not have to make a statement or say anything. Do you understand that, Cristian? Anything you say can be used against you in court. Do you understand that, Cristian?
Q You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before you make a statement or before any questions are asked of you and to have the lawyer with you during any questioning. Do you understand? A Yes. Q If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any qu estioning if you wish. Do you understand? . A Yes. Q If you do answer Questions, you have the right to stop answering questions at any time and consult with a lawyer. Do you understand? A Yeah. Q Do you understand everything that I've said? A Yeah. Q Okay. Do you wish to talk to me today, Cristian? A I don't know what we're going to talk about. Q Okay. Well, I'm going to get into that. I just have to make sure that you're willing to talk to me and find out what I'm wanting to talk to you about, A Yeah. Q Okay. All right Just sign right there On 3/15/Ll and 6/23/11, the officers did not (a) explain the meaning of the rights to Cristian; or (b) inquire what Cristian digested of what they read to him; or (c) ask Cristian to explain each right back to them so they could ascertam what he understood. 3. The Effects of Cognitive Impairments on ]2- Year Old Cristian's Response to Police Interrogation Children and youth with normal intelligence can have learning disabilities that impair some of their skills even though they perform adequately on others. Cristian's early childhood assessments revealed the difficulty of disentangling the discrete effects of learning disabilities, trauma and attention deficits on his behavior. His subsequent educational testing attributed his problems to all three factors, and 111S IEPs did not sufficiently clarify his specific cognitive impairments. At age 3 after he was placed in a foster home (4/02), Cristian was diagnosed with a severe receptive/expressive language disorder and a speech disorder and was classified as Specific Learning Disabled and Language Impaired in preschool At age 4 when Cristian was assessed in pre-Kindergarten (3/03), he scored above average on lQ testing. He was more than a year delayed in receptive language and a year delayed in expressive language. He scored high on inattentrv eness, hyperactivity, and oppositional behaviors. He was classified as Language Impaired, Learning Disabled. Test results in 3/04 in his second year in preKindergarten were similar; that Spanish was his language at home was noted. At age 6 in Kindergarten, Cristian was classified as Language Impaired, Learning Disabled (4/05 rEP). In first grade, Cristian was prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder WIthout a clinical assessment to confirm the diagnosis. At age 9 in third grade, Cristian scored at grade level for reading and above grade level for math on the FCA T (spring, 2008). At age '10 Vi when he returned from a year in the Dominican Republic and was enrolled 111 fifth grade, his teacher observed that Cristian "had a short attention span and demanded attention from teacher and peers and often had trouble staying in seat, completing tasks, easily distracted, appeared hyperactive, had repetitive behaviors, seemed tense ... easily frustrated and confused, was a compulsive talker, easily influenced by others, lacked self-confidence, 'ahibited feelings of superiority, lacked motivation." His last Miami IEP (4/J 0) concluded that "Cristian requires specialized strategies and a structured learning environment," due to his difficulty completing written assignments, writing multiple paragraphs, higher order comprehension questions, and math problems. Cristian enrolled in sixth grade at Kernan Middle School in Jacksonville on 10/2811 O. His record included grades from Miami but not the 4110 rEP that Cristian had in sixth grade. Instead, in Jacksonville he was found eligible for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), even though testing found he was a fluent English speaker. A few days before his arrest, his reading scored at the low intermediate and his writing at the high intermediate level (3/11 Florida Comprehensive English Language Learning Assessment). 1 was
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told by his teacher in the detention center that when he arrived there he was reading and doing math below the sixth grade level, Because they did not receive an IEP from Kernan MS, the detention school was unaware he had been an IEP student all his years in Miami. They assumed his hesitation before speaking and confusion about instructions were the result of knowing some words in English and others in Spanish, While Cristian appeared to have normal intelligence and was working on seventh grade material in the detention school in 1112, when I interviewed him, his language processing and organizational problems were apparent. He was easily distracted when he was anxious, ' In my opinion, Cristian's problems with expressive and receptive language and executive function impaired his comprehension of his Miranda rights during police interrogation on 3/15/11 and 6/23/1 L Children with language and executive function disorders have difficulty understanding what they hear, using communication effectively, sequencing ideas, describing events and following directions, 6 Cristian could not understand statements that were read out loud quickly without explanation. As a result of his lack of comprehension, he viewed being read his rights as II meaningless procedure, not a process of informing him. Describing the 3115/11 interrogation, he told me that going over the Miranda rights "was just something the police have to do" Cristian could explain the meaning of some of the words in Miranda but he could not define the word "right" (other than "like right and wrong, right is good"), Because of his cognitive impairments, Cristian could not conceptualize a right as a legal entitlement Cristian was told his Miranda rights, but could not understand them, 4 The Effects ofImmature Thmking on 12- Year Old Cri§tian' s Response to Po lice Interrogation In an amici curiae brief in Roper v. Simmons (the United States Supreme Court 2005 opinion against the death penalty for juveniles), the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (with other organizations) distinguished the brain developm ent and maturity of teenagers from adults, Additional developmental research was presented in Graham v, Florida and Sullivan v, Florida (the United States Supreme Court 201 0 opinions that juvenile offenders cannot be sentenced to life in prison without parole for a non-homicide offense) in amici curiae briefs by the American Psychological Association, American Medical Association and the National Association of Social Workers and by a group of prominent psychology, neurology and education researchers concluding that scientific studies continue to confirm post-Roper that adolescents are less mature and more prone to engage in risky behaviors than adults. This research shows that even older teenagers handle information processing.judgment and the management of emotions differently from adults and that teen brains are physiologically underdeveloped in the areas that control impulses, foresee consequences. and temper emotions, which applies to 12-year old Cristian: "Older adolescents behave differently than adults because their minds operate differently, their emotions are more volatile and their brains are anatomically immature", These behavioral differences are pervasive and scientifically documented .. , Their judgments, thought patterns, and emotions are different from adults, and their brains are physiologically underdeveloped in the areas that control impulses, foresee consequences, and temper emotions, They handle information processing and the management of emotions differently from adults. Adolescents are inherently more prone to risk-taking behavior and Jess capable of resisting impulses". Adolescents as a group are risk takers [and 1 '" exhibit a disproportionate amount of reckless behavior, sensation seeking and risk taking. " it is statistically aberrant to refrain from such [risk-taking] behavior during adolescence. In short, teenagers are prone to making bad judgments. Cognitive experts have shown that the difference between teenage and adult behavior is not the adolescent's inability to distinguish right from wrong ... Rather, the difference lies in what scientists have characterized as deficiencies in the way adolescents think, an inability to perceive and weigh risks and benefits accurately". psychosocial maturity is incomplete until age 19, at which point it plateaus, Adolescents score lower on measures of self- reliance and other aspects of personal responsibility, they have more difficulty seeing things in long-term perspective, they are less likely to look at things from the perspective of others, and they have more difficulty restraining their aggressive impulses. Researchers have found that the deficiencies in the adolescent mind and emotional and social development are especially pronounced when other Iactors-s-such as stress, emotions and peer pressure-s-enter the equation, These
6 Lavigne, M, & Van Rybroek, G.J. (20J 1), Breakdown in the Language Zone, U.C Davis Journal of Juvenile Law & Policy, 15, 1,37,
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factors affect everyone's cognitive functioning, but they operate on the adolescent differently and with special force ... Brain studies establish an anatomical basis for adolescent behavior. Adolescents' behavioral immaturity mirrors the anatomical immaturity of their brains. To a degree never before understood, scientists can now demonstrate that adolescents are immature, not only to the observer's naked eyes, but in the very fibers of their brains ... First, adolescents rely for certain tasks, more than adults, on the amygdala, the area of the brain associated With primitive impulses of aggression, anger, and fear. Adults, on the other hand, tend to process similar information through the frontal cortex, a cerebral area associated with impulse control and good judgment. Second, the regions of the brain associated with impulse control, risk assessment, and moral reasoning develop last, after late adolescence ... as teenagers grow into adults, they increasingly shift the overall focus of brain activity to the frontal lobes ... [responsible for] decision making, risk assessment, ability to judge future consequences, evaluating reward and punishment, behavioral inhibition, impulse control and moral judgments."7 Adolescents gradually develop adult thought processes and problem-solving skills. Learning to anticipate outcomes and make mature choices evolves slowly until late in the teen years. Even intelligent adolescents are not capable of adult decision-making in part because their brains continue to develop beyond age 18. Sound judgment requires cognitive, social and emotional skills-general cognitive capacity begins to plateau at age 16, but social and emotional maturity continues to develop throughout adolescence. 8 At age 12, Cristian shows immature thinking common in young adolescents: Cristian often does not Mtlcipate the outcomes of his actions. Many 12-year aids have difficulty exercising self-control and lack the experience-based ability to avoid risks. Learning to manage impulses develops gradually, and impulsiveness does not mean that a young person will always have poor judgment. Cristian has little ability to envision future consequences and because of the limited time perspective typical of his age, little ability to imagine himself and others in the future. Cristian often sees only one choice. Many 12-year olds cannot weigh alternatives rationally, especially when they are under stress. In situations where adults perceive several options, even older adolescents may believe they have only one. This contributes to rigid all-or-none thinking common in middle schoolers and an inflexible inability to adapt to changing circumstances. Adolescents' susceptibility to stress and rapid mood swings makes it more difficult to cope wi til complex situations rationally. 9 Cristian's lawyers had explained the meaning ofA1ironda to him before his interviews with me. him to remember whathe was thinking when the police read him his rights nine months earlier in March; 2011. Asked about the right to remain silent, Cristian believed he could not refuse to answer police questions. "You cannot tell a police officer you won't talk, They can laze you. You have to say what the police wan! you to say." This belief demonstrates that he did not comprehend the meaning of the right to remain silent. Asked what the judge would think if she heard that he would not answer the police questions, he said, "that 1 was supposed to talk to the police." He did n01 understand why he was told he could talk to a lawyer at the time of his arrest because he did not know what a lawyer was. "I had never been to court." Asked if he had seen lawyers and judges on TV, Cristian said, " I don't watch court shows on TV. I watch cartoons. I knew what police are-they help good people and eliminate bad people--butI didn't know what a lawyer was." Asked about the meaning of "have the lawyer with you during any questioning," Cristian commented, "Even today 1 don't know how the police could get a lawyer to the police station. I didn't know what a lawyer was, so I didn't know I could stop the police questions and ask for a lawyer." Asked about the officer's explanation, "if you don't have the money for one, that we will give you one," he responded, "Is that really true? The police
7 American Medical Association. Amici curiae brief, Roper v. Simmons, UnitedStates Supreme Court, 2005, pp. 4-20. S AmCr1C8Jl PsychologicalAssociation, Amici curiae brief in Graham v. Florid« and Sullivan v. Florida, 2009, D. 14. 9 Scott, E.S. & Steinberg, L. (200S), Adolescent Development and the Regulation of Youth Crime. The Future of
Children, 18 (2), 15-33.
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don't really pay for a lawyer for you. My Mom couldn't pay, but I didn't know what a lawyer was." Asked if he knew that his mother was in the next room while the police were questioning him, he said he did not. Then he added, "Anyway I don't think my Mom knew she could ask for a lawyer. Now I know my Mom should have asked, I should have asked. If I had a lawyer there, I wouldn't have to talk." Cristian said that his lawyers did not explain the meaning of MIranda to him until after June, 2011 "because they didn't think I'd have to know thai again." Cristian was surprised to be escorted from his jail cell and did not know why the officer wanted to talk to him. He said he did not know he was being arrested for a new charge during the 6/23/11 interrogation and was surprised to find out later that they charged him. "They didn't arrest me, like put on handcuffs and take me away in the police car. I already was in the jail. I already had handcuffs." Cristian did not understand that he could choose not to answer police questions when he was injail. Cristian had a Jawyer at the time of his 6/23/11 interrogation, but he did not understand that he bad a right to call his lawyer. Asked if he thought his lawyer would have come to the jail for the questioning if he had been called, Cristian said, "Yes. He helped me a tot." Asked if thought about asking for his lawyer to be present he said, "No. I thought the police just wanted to talk to me." That Cristian did not understand what waiving his Miranda rights meant is demonstrated at the end of the 6/23/11 interrogation (page 51): Well, WIlS the -- the -- the rules on paper actually wi!l-- the rights were between you and me? Yes. What do you mean? What are you asking me? I'm not sure. A Like, the right to have an attorney. Q Uh-huh, A Oh, that's just the right Q The form? A Uh-huh, Q Yeah. When we talked about that, that's basically, you know, me getting permission from you that you want to talk to me. And I couldn't have talked to y-outoday and learned all the things about you unless you said it was okay. Although these questions indicate that Cristian thought "the rights were between you and men (himself and the officer), the officer did not ask what he did not understand earlier when he signed the form waiving the rights. She did not explain the rights again in order to ascertain his understanding. In my opinion, Cristian' s immature thinking impaired his comprehension of his Miranda rights during police interrogation on 3/15(J I and 6/23/11. He could See only one option and did not believe he could say "No" to the police. He did not understand the importance of the police interview. He did not have the future perspective to imagine what would happen after the questioning. In the 6/23/11 interrogation, he believed that "the rights" were a private exchange between himself and the officer. 5. The EffeclS of Past Trauma on 12·Year Old Cristian's Response to Police Interrogation Crisrian got upset talking about the recent and distant past, and I interviewed him cautiously to avoid the risk of re-traumatizing him (which can occur if a child is pushed to recount traumatic events). Cristiari's mother, Biannela Susana, was born in the Dominican Republic in January, 1986. Two years later her mother divorced her father, and when Biannela was 6 her mother left her with relatives and moved to the u.s. Biannela joined her mother in the U.S. when she was 8-her mother was 29, her new stepfather was 40, and her U.S.-born step-sister also S. Despite having family members who love him, Cristian has been exposed to multiple traumas beginning before his birth. • Conception by rape Cristian was born January 14, 1999 when his mother was 12. She had been raped by a Cuban acquaintance of the family who is described as 18 or in his 20s in various records . • Early neglect When he was 15 months old (4/18/00), Cristian was hospitalized for five days for treatment of pneumonia. That record described his mother as 13 years old, his primary caretaker, not in schooland living with her mother who worked 8 AM - 10 PM. He had not been to pediatrician since he was two months old; his vaccines were not up-to-date, so DCF was called. A year later (6/16101), DCF was called again because 2 Y, year old Cristian was wandering around a motel naked near II busy street in the early morning. Cristian, his mother and his grandmother had been living in an unsanitary hotel room,
CRISTIAN FERNANDEZ (Sf12) - Page 7
and his grandmother was arrested for child neglect and possession of cocaine. Cristian was placed with his maternal step-grandfather who returned him to his grandmother when she was released from jail. The following year (3/19/02), DCF investigated again because he was living with his grandmother in "a trailer in deplorable conditions" and 3-year old Cristian was placed in a foster home. • Exposure to sexual behavior in the foster home Crist ian was placed with an emotionally disturbed 6·year old foster brother and sexual behavior between them was reported. His l o-year old mother moved into his foster home with him, When Cristian was 4, their foster mother died of II heart attack at horne while he was there, and he and his mother and the two foster brothers were moved to the foster mother's sister-in-law's home • His mother's marriage and birth of his half-brother Wben Cristian was 5, they left foster care, moved into an apartment and were described as "very close." After his 6th birthday, his pregnant 18-year old mother . 26-year a Venezualan and his half.sjster~as iiiiiii~'I~ construction born in born in
• Sexual abuse by his cousin DCF investigated again when 8-year old Cristian said his 12-year old cOllsi~had .been sexually molesting him for two years. His stepfather taunted Cristian f~ay> and one reason for being sent to the Dominican Republic for a year was to "cure" him of it • Increased abuse by his stepfather , from the Dominican Republic at age 10, meeting his almost I-year old the first time. For the year after his return, Cristian was calle<!_ a baseball bat, slammed agains~1 in 6th grade, his stepfather caused arms weeks later, on 10/22/10 l l-year old Cristian arrived at school with a badly bruised eye and was taken to the hospital where xrays showed a broken rib. His mother called her husband to tell him the police were on their way to talk with him about abusing Cristiano When they arriv~d shot himself fatally in the head in front of 2-year old_and 4-year old_ • The sudden move to Jacksonville Cristian was quickly enrolled ill a new 6tl> grade in Jacksonville. Shock and guilt over his stepfather's death and the move were accompanied by relief that he would not be abused anymore. He babysat for his three siblings, ages 5, 4 and 2 while his mother was out. In 1/11, his 2·year old half-brother's femur was broken. His mother told.~vestigating because she had not gotten medical attention for more than a day, tha~fell off the monkey bars in the park while she kept track of the children from the apartment window, Later Cristian said it happened accidentally when hean~ere wrestling when his mother was not home. . Cristian experienced physical and sexual abuse, neglect, his stepfather'S suicide, and several sudden relocations in his short life. He is not accustomed to talking about feelings, and his motto is "You got to suck up feelings and get over it." Trauma slows down. development in children and can interfere with all aspects of the child's functioning, especially when it is repeated. Children who experience recurring trauma are typically delayed, depressed, fearful, limited in their academic progress, may seem emotionally detached, communicate poorly, and blame themselves. "Reactions [to trauma] vary at different ages because children understand and internalize the experience depending on their cognitive and emotional capacities ... Exposure to trauma, especially violence that impacts directly on the family, interferes with children's normal development of trust and later autonomy." 10 While other children are growing emotionally , the child coping with trauma is distracted from normal developmental tasks and is occupied with worries, sadness, anger and feeling powerless. His Aunt_worried that Cristian was a sad, quiet child who seemed afraid. His mother told me, "He keeps things to himself. He gets afraid of disapproval. He likes to be reassured, likes to hear the care
10 Osofsky, J. (ed), Young Children and Trouma. New York: Guilford, 2004, pp. 5-6
CRlSTIAN FERNANDEZ (5/12) "Page 8
.people have for him. Abuse takes a toll on your self-esteem. I know from experience. I wanted him to have therapy. DCF gave us a referral. He was on the waiting list." In my opinion, the effects of past trauma interfered with Cristian '5 comprehension of his Miranda rights during police interrogation on 3/15/11 and 6/23/11. In the police station on 3/]5/11 Cristian was in the midst of another trauma: the serious injury of his brother. The stress of such an upsetting situation would have distracted any 12-year old, but especially one whose abusive stepfather had killed himself a few months before. In my opinion, the effects of past trauma also influenced Cristian's statements during police interrogation on 3/15/11 and 6/2311 L At age 12. Cristian would be expected to comply with authority figures. In the police station without a lawyer, children give statements in response to questioning that reduces their self-confidence, makes them feel hopeless and persuades them they are better off by saying what they think the police want.]] On 3/15111, the officer said, "Just tell me a little bit more about what happened tonight and then we will be done ... Ifyou tell me how he got [injured] that would be really helpful for him, And for us. And then the truth will be known and you won'~e to worry about hiding [itJ ... you don't have to be scared." On 6/23/11. the officer told him, "For need to know." Young adolescents cannot withstand adult pressure and are likely to make statements to the police, especially if they believe it will result in an immediate reward, such as going home or leaving the interview room. At 12, Cristian was focused on getting out of the interrogation and could not see the risks ofsaying what the officers urged him to sayan 3/15/11 and 6123/11. Asked about 61231I 1, Cristian said, "It wasn't true but I had to say I did it ifl wanted to leave. The detective kept pressuring me, 'You must have done it. ,,, Asked if he could have continued to say he did not have sexual behavior with his brother, Cristian said, "If I said I did it, I could leave. If I didn't say it, 1 would never leave. So 1 said it ~ Cristian could not foresee that he would be unable to take back what he said to the police. He could not imagine the importance what he said would later have in court Regarding the 6/23/11 interrogation, Cristian told me "The detective told me what I said wasn't going to affect my case and didn't say anything about starting 3 new case." Asked if he thought about what could happen if he made up things to say to the police, Cristian said, "I just wanted to get out of there." Because of the trauma he has experienced, Cristian has high anxiety. In a stressful situation, his decision-making would be compromised by his emotional state. His physical state also likely affected him: he was interviewed after 2 AM on 3/l 5111 and was tired. He was brought to the 6/23111 interrogation from an adult jail cell where he was in isolation. One result of past trauma is Cristiau's fear about being gay, sensitivity about being seen as gay and embarrassment about references to sexual abuse in his record. 12 Cristian wanted to get the police questioning on 6/23111 over as quickly as possible because he was embarrassed by discussing sexual topics, ashamed to talk about his past sexual abuse and worried about being perceived as gay. Cristian's unique closeness to his mother is another consequence of his trauma history. He is unusually dependent. on his mother, which may be partly cultural and is also-the result. of their spending so much time alone together in his first five years. Cristian expressed strong beliefs that children should be obedient to their parents. He thought it was important to take care of his mother, especially after his stepfather's death, Being extremely loyal would not be surprising at his age with his history, and in the police station on 3/15111, Cristian was strongly influenced to say what he thought would protect his mother.
Marty Beyer, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist
II Kassin, S.M., Drizin, S.A., Grisso, T., Gudjonsson, G.H .. Leo, R.A.& ; Redlich, A.D. (20 I0), Police-Induced Confessions, Risk Factors and Recommendations. Law and Human Behavior, 34 (J), 49-52. 12 Ryan, C .. Huebner, D., Diaz, RM. & Sanchez, J. (2009). Family Rejection as A Predictor of Negative Health Outcomes in White and Lntino Lesbian, Gil}'WId Bisexual Young Adults. Pediatrics, 1,346,352. Mlldj,K., Marksarner, J. & Reyes, C. (2009). Hidden Injusttce: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in Juvenile Courts. San Francisco, CA.
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