Police twice violated the Miranda rights of an East Bay cancer doctor arrested in a 2006 Petaluma sting that was part of Dateline NBC's "To Catch a Predator" TV series, a Sonoma County judge ruled this week.
Dr. Maurice Wolin, 50, of Piedmont is charged with attempted lewd conduct with a child, a felony that could mean four years in prison if he is convicted. He also would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Wolin has fought the case at every step since his August 2006 arrest -- along with 28 others -- in a three-day sting Petaluma police and other agencies conducted with the TV show and computer decoys from the advocacy group Perverted Justice.
Prosecutors allege that Wolin, whose state medical license has been suspended indefinitely as a result of the charges, arranged online to meet someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl for sexual purposes.
Wolin acknowledges driving from the Bay Area to the Petaluma home police had staked out and rigged with cameras for the sting. But he contends he wasn't intending to have sex with the "girl," in fact an adult male decoy from the self-proclaimed vigilante group Perverted Justice.
In a three-page ruling filed Tuesday, Judge Arthur "Andy" Wick said law enforcement officers twice improperly interrogated Wolin after he invoked his Miranda rights by asking to speak with an attorney.
During the booking process, Wolin asked to have counsel present during questioning, according to Wick.
"The booking officer(s) should have advised (Petaluma Police) Detective (Steve) Nelson that defendant had invoked his right to counsel and detective Nelson should not have started the interrogation," Wick ruled.
Even if Wolin hadn't expressed his wishes clearly at that point, police again violated his rights during the subsequent questioning, Wick said.
"Once a suspect in custody has clearly asserted his Miranda right to counsel, all interrogation must cease," Wick wrote. "The officers may not 'try again' under any circumstances without defense counsel being present. Any further contact must be initiated by the suspect."