Wednesday, June 2, 2010

You Have the Right to Remain Silent, So Start Talking

Suspects Must Invoke Their Right to Remain Silent:

Criminal suspects should speak up if they want to preserve their right to remain silent, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday. Conservative justices ruled for police in the latest test of the court's famous Miranda rule and shifted the burden to suspects to invoke their right to refuse questioning.

The court ruled 5 to 4 that a Michigan defendant who incriminated himself in a fatal shooting by saying one word after nearly three hours of questioning had given up his right to silence, and that the statement could be used against him at trial.

"Where the prosecution shows that a Miranda warning was given and that it was understood by the accused, an accused's uncoerced statement establishes an implied waiver of the right to remain silent," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority.

As the coverage notes, this is the third decision this term restricting Miranda's application, and may be preparing the way for Miranda to be deep sixed completely when it comes to terrorism suspects and their interrogations. It wouldn't surprise me, given Kennedy's reasoning.
When the suspect knows that Miranda rights can be invoked at any time, he or she has the opportunity to reassess his or her immediate and long-term interests. Cooperation with the police may result in more favorable treatment for the suspect; the apprehension of accomplices; the prevention of continuing injury and fear; beginning steps towards relief or solace for the victims; and the beginning of the suspect’s own return to the law and the social order it seeks to protect.
In other words, think of all the greater good that could come from you waiving your constitutional protections and potential freedom. Take one for the team and start talking.

I'll leave it to Sotomayor's "first major dissent" to speak for me on this one:
Today's decision turns Miranda upside down. Criminal suspects must now unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent -- which, counter-intuitively, requires them to speak. At the same time, suspects will be legally presumed to have waived their rights even if they have given no clear expression of their intent to do so. Today’s broad new rules are all the more unfortunate because they are unnecessary to the disposition of the case before us.
But they may be necessary once Miranda is challenged and subsequently scrapped for suspects in the "War on Terror."

The case is Berghuis v. Thompkins (2010)

No comments: