You Had the Right to Remain Silent

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The Supremes consider two cases that could loosen the standard set by the court in Miranda v. Arizona, which required law officers to inform suspects of their constitutional rights before interrogations. One is debatable; one is a no-brainer.

In the first case, a suspect being read his rights interrupted the officer, declaring "I know my rights." The question is whether a gun that the officer subsequently found when the suspect consented to a search of his home is admissible as evidence. The NY Times claims that precedent cuts against the admissibility of the gun. I have no idea what the case law says, but I just saw Ron Kuby on CNN, and even he seemed to think this was probably permissible.

The no-brainer involves the practice of "two-part" interrogations. The trick works like this: Interrogation one is conducted without Mirandizing the suspect, ideally eliciting a confession. That confession, however, is inadmissible in court. Then, the officers stop and, after a break, start a "new" interrogation, this time Mirandizing the suspect. If they can get her to confirm the confession she made an hour ago, it's now admissible. This one is obviously just a sneaky means of doing an end-run around the procedural requirements of Miranda, and seems unlikely to stand scrutiny.

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  1. I’m confused. The New York Times article on the “debatable” case contradicts this summary.

    Julian presents the gun case as whether or not it is an illegal search when the suspect interrupts the officer by saying “I know my rights” and the officer then assumes that this means he has been properly Mirandized.

    But the NYT op-ed implies that what is at stake is not whether the individual was properly Mirandized, but rather whether the physical evidence can be introduced despite the failure to properly Mirandize the suspect.

  2. This USA Today article gives a bit more information:

    1. Officer starts to read rights.

    2. Suspect interrupts that he knows his rights and, by the way, he has a gun in the house.

    3. Cops seize gun.

    4. Defense lawyer says, hey, you never properly Mirandized him before he said there was a gun in the house, so the gun has to be excluded.

    So, in other words, the key is to confess to police about any physical evidence *before* they have an opportunity to Mirandize you!!

    “I know my goddamn rights, and by the way I’ve got an Uzi under my coat and a bloody knife in the trunk of the car. *Now* see if you’ll ever be able to get a conviction!”

  3. So, if while being read my rights, I cover my ears and hum, am I not properly Mirandized? I have little sympathy for the guy that interrupted the officer and said that he knew his rights. It’s not like the officer said, “Do you know your rights?” and he responded in the affirmative. The two-part interrogation thing is pretty slimy.

  4. What boggles my mind is that there could be anyone in the United States — anyone who grew up here, anyway — who doesn’t know the Miranda drill. Don’t these people ever watch TV? Right to remain silent, right to an attorney. It is not exactly rocket science. Hell, all you *really* need to remember is “if you’re ever arrested for anything at all, shut the hell up and call a lawyer”.

    It seems like a lot of effort could be saved if we just officially incorporated “basic rights education” into the school curricula, and relieved the police of the duty of educating perps. This would have the added advantage of making it a lot harder for police to take advantage of ignorant suspects.

  5. Whoa! Shouldn’t charges be brought against the police in the Missouri v. Seibert case for attempting to violate Ms. Seiberts constitutional rights?

  6. The Patane case has nothing to do with whether he is properly mirandized: It is conceded that the police violated miranda. The question is whether the physical fruits of an unmirandized confession can be used against the suspect in court. The general rule is the “fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine”, which holds when the police screw up, they can’t use the fruits of their unconstitional conduct against you. The case law, however, says that the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine doesn’t apply to fifth amendment miranda violations where the statements of the accused are made voluntarily. Patane is trying to argue that this encourages the police to violate miranda in hopes of getting some physical evidence from the suspect, which will be admitted even though the police violated his constitutional rights. The state is probably going to win this one based on the case law.

  7. I’m all for the Court loosening Miranda requirements. The original case was wrong – nowhere in the Constitution does it require police (or any govt agency, for that matter) to inform suspects of their rights. Just because the Supreme Court says doesn’t make it so.
    This ruling also set up the Court to be the de facto police commissioner over every precinct in America, a breath-taking power grab. If state legislatures, or Congress, wish to pass laws requiring cops to inform suspects of their rights, then fine. It’s their job to legislate. Not the courts.

  8. I’m all for the Court loosening Miranda requirements. The original case was wrong – nowhere in the Constitution does it require police (or any govt agency, for that matter) to inform suspects of their rights. Just because the Supreme Court says so doesn’t make it so.
    This ruling also set up the Court to be the de facto police commissioner over every precinct in America, a breath-taking power grab. If state legislatures, or Congress, wish to pass laws requiring cops to inform suspects of their rights, then fine. It’s their job to legislate. Not the courts.

  9. I was wondering. Is there any other states that have two part interrogation. I know that Missouri does, because in the the case Missouri v. Seibert. I’m doing some research on this. I was hoping that some one could help me out. Please email me, or I’ll check back here in a few days.

  10. I’ve never thought about that before!

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