Miranda v Arizona

UNIT 4: Case Study
Article I, §8
Article II, § §1-3
Article III, §2
10th Amendment
4th, 5th, 6th Amendments
14th Amendment
Crime and the states
• 10th Amendment “police
• Most crimes state matters
• State criminal procedures differ
• “Voluntariness” and “totality of
circumstances” determine
admissibility of confessions
14th Amendment impact
• Requires states to follow “due process”
• “Selective incorporation” makes Bill of
Rights guarantees limitations on states
• Congress can enforce 14th Amendment
Miranda context
• March 1963: Patricia Weir, age 18, rides
bus home from work in Phoenix
• Kidnapped/raped/robbed of $4
• Police called
Weir’s description
Late 20s Mexican/Italian male
No accent
Under 6 feet tall
Weight @ 175
Short curly hair
Dark-rimmed glasses
Drove Ford or Chevy
Weir not a good witness/victim
Did she or attacker remove clothes?
Did she fight? (Arizona law requires resistance)
Why evasive in response to questions?
Why not able to pass lie detector test?
Case almost dropped
Family steps in
• Weir points out to brother-in-law green
Packard like attacker’s in neighborhood
• Tells brother-in-law car had rope handle in
• Brother-in-law tells police Weir has mental
capacity of 12-year-old
• Police trace car to Ernesto Miranda’s
• Ask Miranda to come to police station
Ernesto Miranda
• In trouble with law since
grade school
• Reform school for
burglary and
• Detention for burglary
and Peeping Tom
• Dishonorable Army
• Prison for car theft
• Produce worker when
Police actions
• Not told under arrest
• Told “you flunked” line-up
even though Weir could
not identify
• Not told of right to
counsel or silence
• Interrogated for two hours
• Confession on typed form
Miranda told to sign
containing statement that
confession voluntary
State court process
• Miranda receives appointed counsel for
trial in state court
• Counsel moves to exclude confession as
5th /6th Amendment violations
• Trial judge denies motion
Confession admitted into evidence
Several prosecution witnesses testify
No defense witnesses
Miranda convicted of rape & kidnap
Sentenced to 20-30 years in state prison
Meanwhile. . .
When police are focusing on a particular
suspect in custody, refusing to allow that
suspect to consult with an attorney and
failing to warn the suspect of his right to
remain silent violates Sixth Amendment right
to counsel (Escobedo v. Illinois, 1964)
State court appeal
• Miranda’s pretrial confession not “knowing
and voluntary”(Escobedo)
• Weir did not “resist to the utmost” as
required by Arizona law
Arizona Supreme Court
• Distinguishes Escobedo: Police
reasonably could assume man with
Miranda’s criminal background would
know rights
• Miranda failed to ask for counsel
U. S. Supreme Court
Allowed certiorari because of
disagreements among courts throughout
country about meaning of Escobedo
Distills “fundamental
fairness” standards into
one statement
Eliminates case-by
case analysis of “totality
of circumstances”
Issues “bright-line” rule
all states must follow
Constitution & Miranda: What
can be done?
Executive Responses
• Assistant Attorney General
William Rehnquist denounces
• President Richard Nixon says
Miranda will undermine police
efficiency and help increase
• Nixon promises to appoint “strict
constructionists” to overrule
Congress’s response
• House minority leader Gerald Ford
introduces “Crime Control and Safe
Streets Act”
• Amends §3501 of U.S. Criminal Code to
restore “totality of circumstances” test
• Requires case-by-case judicial analysis
to determine voluntariness
State responses
• Most strive to comply; print cards
• MO: OK to give warnings after
• N.Y: OK to use confessions
• obtained in violation of Miranda to
impeach defendant?
• CO: Confession OK even if defendant
• RI: OK to use spontaneous confessions?
Subsequent history
• Solicitor Generals think §3501 unconstitutional
and refuse to raise in prosecutions
• Nixon appoints Rehnquist to Supreme Court
• Court carves out several exceptions to Miranda
• Justice Scalia urges courts/executive to invoke
§3501 (Davis v. United States, 1994)
Dickerson v. U.S. (2000)
• 4th Circuit sua sponte rules Miranda not
constitutionally grounded
• Holds §3501 of Safe Streets Act (1968)
overruled Miranda
• Forces U.S. Supreme Court to address
Supreme Court
Are Miranda warnings compelled by
the U.S. Constitution?
C.J. Rehnquist: Yes—4th, 5th, & 6th A’s
“Miranda has become embedded in
routine police practice to the point
where the warnings have become
part of our national culture.”
Dissent—Justice Scalia
• Voluntariness of confession should be
• Miranda has no constitutional moorings
and majority knows it
• “Preventing foolish (rather than compelled)
confessions is … the only conceivable
basis” for Miranda rule
What of Ernesto Miranda?
• Re-tried without confession
• Common-law wife testified against him
• Convicted and again sentenced to 20-30 years;
paroled 1972
• Made money printing, autographing, & selling
“Miranda” cards
• Killed in bar fight
What does this case study
State responsibility for criminal law
State police procedures
14th Amendment:
How due process affects Bill of Rights
Judicial process—state and national
Responses of political branches
Importance of political culture