December 11, 2012
Case Project “Miranda”
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. During any questioning, you may decide at any time to exercise these rights, not answer any questions or make any statements. Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?” The Miranda Rights, passed in 1966, are stated after or during every arrest that happens in the United States. The “Miranda Rights” got the name by Ernesto Miranda. Ernesto had numerous convictions in his lifetime, but on March 13, 1963, his truck was spotted and license plates were recognized by the brother of an 18-year-old kidnapping and rape victim, Lois Ann Jameson. Phoenix police officers Carroll Cooley and Wilfred Young arrested Miranda, took him to the station house and placed him in a lineup. The police got a confession out of Miranda after two hours of interrogation, without informing him of his rights. Miranda was taken to meet the beating victim for positive voice identification. It matched that of the culprit. In Miranda’s confession, he stated that he was not informed of his right to have an attorney present and his right to remain silent.
73 year old Alvin Moore, was assigned to represent him at his trial. The 1st trial took place in mid-June 1963 before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Yale McFate. The petitioner was Miranda and the respondent was Arizona. It was argued February 28-March 2, 1966. It was decided on Monday, June 13, 1966. Mostly because of Miranda’s confession to the court, he was convicted of rape and kidnapping and sentenced to 20 to 30 years on both charges. Moore appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court but the charges were upheld. Miranda’s attorneys wrote a 2,500 word petition that argued that his Fifth Amendment rights had been violated and sent it to the U.S. Supreme Court (The Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination requires law enforcement officials to advise a suspect interrogated in custody of his right to remain silent and to obtain an attorney). Chief Justice Earl Warren, a former prosecutor, delivered the opinion of the Court, ruling that due to the coercive nature of the custodial interrogation by police, no confession could be admissible under the Fifth Amendment self-incrimination clause and Sixth Amendment right to an attorney unless a suspect had been made aware of his/her rights and the suspect had then waived them. The decision came out to be 5 votes for Miranda, and 4 votes against. The 5 Justices that were for Miranda were Warren, Black, Douglas, Brennan, and Fortas. Thus, Miranda’s conviction was overturned. However, the dissenting justices thought that the suggested warnings would ultimately lead to such a drastic effect. They believed that once warned, suspects would always demand attorneys and deny the police the ability to seek confessions and accordingly accused the majority of overreacting to the problem of coercive interrogations. Justices Tom C. Clark, John Marshall Harlan II, and Byron White all dissented against Chief Justice Earl Warren. Justice Tom C. Clark argued that the Warren Court went “too far too fast”. Justice Harlan wrote that “nothing in the letter or the spirit of the Constitution or in the precedents squares with the heavy-handed and one-sided action that is so precipitously taken by the Court in the name of fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities.” Justice White took issue with the court announcing a new constitutional right when it had no “factual and textual bases” in the constitution or previous opinions of the court for the rule announced in the opinion. He stated: “The proposition that the privilege against self-incrimination forbids in-custody interrogation without the warnings specified in the majority opinion and without a clear waiver of counsel has no significant support in the history of the privilege or in the language of the Fifth Amendment.”
Following the decision, the nation’s police departments were required to inform arrested persons of their rights under the ruling, termed a Miranda warning. The “Miranda decision” was widely criticized when it came about, as many felt it was unfair to inform suspected criminals of their rights, as outlined in the decision. President Richard Nixon and other conservatives denounced Miranda for undermining the efficiency of the police, and argued the ruling would contribute to an increase in crime. Nixon, upon becoming President, promised to appoint judges who would be “strict constitutionalists” and who would exercise judicial restraint. Once the Supreme Court agreed to hear Miranda’s case, Gary Nelson spoke for the people of Arizona, arguing that this was not a Fifth Amendment issue but just an attempt to expand the Sixth Amendment Escobedo decision. He urges the justices to clarify their position, but not to push the limits of Escobedo to far. He then told the court that forcing police to advise suspects of their rights would seriously obstruct public safety. In addition, Thurgood Marshall, the former NAACP attorney, was the last one to argue. He thought that the government did not have the resources to appoint a lawyer for every indigent person who was accused of a crime.
Ernesto Miranda was retried by Arizona after his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court. In his second trial, his confession was not introduced into evidence, but he was convicted again on testimony given by his estranged de facto wife, but only after he sued for custody of their daughter. In a 7-2 vote, it held that the Miranda warning requirement was based on the constitution, and that Congress could not change it by legislation. He was sentenced to 20 to 30 years in prison. He served eleven years in prison before being paroled in 1972. After his release from prison, he made money by selling Miranda rights cards with his signature on them. He was arrested for the possession of a gun but the charges were dropped. But because this violated his parole, he was sent back to Arizona State Prison for another year. On January 31st, 1976, at the age of 34, he was stabbed to death in a bar fight. The man suspected of killing him invoked his Miranda rights and refused to talk to police. He was released and never charged with Miranda's murder.
This case changed the way people in the United States got arrested. Before the Miranda rights, people did not get informed of their constitutional rights during an arrest. Today, it is a law set throughout the United States that must be enforced. As a result of the Miranda warning, it was a requirement to the constitution, and that Congress could not change it by legislation. It has an ever greater majority on the Supreme Court than the original holding.