In the time since Miranda was decided in 1966, the Supreme Court of the United States has decided several cases directly related to the issues in the Miranda
case. Below are brief descriptions of the issues presented to the
justices in several of these cases. How would you decide these cases if
you were a Supreme Court justice? For the purpose of this exercise, you
should assume that you cannot overturn the Miranda decision. First, let's review the main points of the Miranda decision, written by Chief Justice Earl Warren in 1966:
Persons in police custody must be warned of their rights before they are questioned, as follows:
You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
You have the right to an attorney.
If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
The failure to warn the accused prior to interrogation leads to the
presumption that statements made by the accused were involuntary and
must be suppressed because of the Fifth Amendment's protection against a
person being "compelled in a criminal case to be a witness against
Harris v. New York (1971)
Harris was arrested for selling heroin to an undercover detective. He
had not been given his Miranda warnings when he said to the police
officers that he had made the sales at the request of the undercover
officer. At trial, the prosecution did not use the statement the
defendant made during their case. However, when he took the stand, he
denied making the sales, contradicting what he had previously told the
police. The prosecutors then used his initial statement to impeach, or
make less credible, his testimony.
Michigan v. Tucker (1974)
In this case, the accused was warned of his right against
self-incrimination, but not of his right to a lawyer. In the defendant's
statement, a person was identified as a potential witness. The
defendant's lawyer argued that the witness could not testify, since the
witness would be "derivative evidence" arising from the defendant's
statement, which was not allowed in court because of the violation of
New York v. Quarles (1984)
A woman told two police officers that she had been raped at gunpoint.
She gave them a description of the suspect and told them he had gone
into a nearby supermarket. One of the officers apprehended Quarles, the
suspect, in the store, searched him, and found that he was wearing an
empty holster. The officer asked Quarles where his gun was and he told
him. The officer arrested Quarles and read him his Miranda rights.
Oregon v. Elstad (1985)
Elstad was suspected of committing burglary. He was arrested in his
home, and he made an incriminating statement before being read his
Miranda warnings. He was then taken to the police station where the
police read him his Miranda rights. He waived his Miranda rights and the
police questioned him; during the questioning, he confessed to the
crime and signed a written confession. Elstad's first statement that he
was involved in the crime was suppressed at trial, but his second
statement was used against him and he was convicted.
Illinois v. Perkins (1990)
In this case, police informants posed as prisoners in order to obtain
evidence of Perkins' involvement in a murder. Perkins made statements
to the one of the "prisoners" implicating himself. This information was
subsequently used at trial and Perkins was convicted. There had been no
Miranda warning, since the defendant did not know he was speaking to
someone acting on behalf of the police.