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Law School Case Brief

State v. Oglesby - 361 N.C. 550, 648 S.E.2d 819 (2007)


A "guardian" is defined as one who has the legal authority and duty to care for another's person or property. 


In 2002, when defendant Jaamall Denaris Oglesby was then 16 years old, he made incriminating statement to law enforcement officers with the Winston-Salem Police Department during a custodial interrogation for unspecified crimes. In 2003, Oglesby was indicted on numerus charges including first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping and robbery. In 2004, before trial in North Carolina state court, Oglesby filed a motion to suppress that incriminating statement on the ground that his juvenile rights were violated during the interrogation because the detectives did not cease questioning him when he requested to phone his aunt. The trial court found, inter alia, that Oglesby's aunt was not his guardian or custodian under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2101, which required law enforcement officers to advise juveniles of their right to have a parent, guardian, or custodian present during questioning. A jury found Oglesby guilty, and the trial entered judgment on the verdict. Oglesby appealed, and the court of appeals found no error in part but remanded in part for resentencing on two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon and to arrest judgment either on Oglesby's conviction for first-degree kidnapping or his conviction for attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon. Oglesby and the State appealed, and the state supreme court granted discretionary review.


Was an "aunt" was an enumerated relation for purposes of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2101?




In order to prevent manifest injustice, the state supreme court decided to review the issue despite the fact that Oglesby failed to properly preserve the issue for review. The court ruled that an "aunt" was not an enumerated relation in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-2101, and an interpretation of the term "guardian" to encompass anything other than a relationship established by legal process would have unjustifiably expanded the plain and unambiguous meaning of the word. The court refused to disturb the trial court's finding of fact that the aunt was not Oglesby's guardian because that finding of fact was supported by competent evidence. However, the court vacated the portion of the court of appeals' decision in which that court found Blakely error in Oglesby's aggravated sentences for robbery with a dangerous weapon, which it treated as structural error, and remanded the matter to the court of appeals for harmless error review pursuant to State v. Blackwell.

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