Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Supreme Court:Miranda right to silence must be requested


The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that suspects must explicitly tell police they want to be silent to invoke Miranda protections during criminal interrogations, a decision one dissenting justice said turns defendants' rights ''upside down.''

A right to remain silent and a right to a lawyer are the first of the Miranda rights warnings, which police recite to suspects during arrests and interrogations. But the justices said in a 5-4 decision that suspects must tell police they are going to remain silent to stop an interrogation, just as they must tell police that they want a lawyer.

The ruling comes in a case where a suspect, Van Chester Thompkins, remained mostly silent for a three-hour police interrogation before implicating himself in a Jan. 10, 2000, murder in Southfield, Mich. He appealed his conviction, saying that he invoked his Miranda right to remain silent by remaining silent.[...]


  1. Lately, the papers have been full of articles declaring the executive branch's position that the Miranda rights are too broad. How that fits in with the judicial branch doing the watering down is beyond me.

    Here is a link about an orthodox Jewish boxing champion, and has nothing to do with this topic. I just don't know how else to bring it up:


  2. The concept of "Miranda rights" was enshrined in U.S. law following the 1966 Miranda v. Arizona Supreme Court decision, which found that the Fifth Amendment and Sixth Amendment rights of Ernesto Arturo Miranda had been violated during his arrest and trial for rape and kidnapping. (Miranda was subsequently retried, found guilty and sentenced to 20–30 years.)

    The Supreme Court did not specify the exact wording to use when informing a suspect of their rights. However, the Court did create a set of guidelines that must be followed. The ruling states:
    “ ...The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he or she has the right to remain silent, and that anything the person says will be used against that person in court; the person must be clearly informed that he or she has the right to consult with an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning, and that, if he or she is indigent, an attorney will be provided at no cost to represent her or him. ”

    As a result, American English developed the verb Mirandize, meaning "to read the Miranda warning" to a suspect (when the suspect is arrested).[1]

    Notably, the Miranda rights do not have to be read in any particular order, and they do not have to precisely match the language of the Miranda decision, as long as they are adequately and fully conveyed. California v. Prysock, 453 U.S. 355 (1981).[2]

    On June 1, 2010, the US Supreme Court declared that criminal defendants will not get the benefit of the Miranda rule against self-incrimination unless they specifically invoke them.

    In other words, the term Miranda rights have been re-defined after nearly 45 years.

    Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in her first major dissent, said the decision “turns Miranda upside down” and “bodes poorly for the fundamental principles that Miranda protects.”

    Monday’s decision followed two in February that also narrowed and clarified the scope of the Miranda decision. One allowed police officers to vary the wording of the warning; the other allowed a second round of questioning of suspects who had invoked their rights so long as two weeks had passed since their release from custody.

    Justice Sotomayor, in her dissent, said “these principles flatly contradict” earlier decisions from the court.

    “At best, the court today creates an unworkable and conflicting set of presumptions,” she wrote. “At worst, it overrules sub silentio an essential aspect of the protections Miranda has long provided.”

    The better practice in the face of ambiguous responses from a suspect, Justice Sotomayor wrote, would be for the police to ask follow-up questions like, “Do you want to talk to us?”

    Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer joined Justice Sotomayor’s dissent.

  3. False accusations of molestation is a frequent problem, especially from coached children.


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