June 7, 2010

United States Supreme Court decisions 6-1-2010



Berghuis v. Thompkins (decided 5-4)  Invocation of the Right to Remain Silent under Miranda 
The U.S. Supreme Court held that a person’s right to silence cannot be invoked through silence, but must be unequivocal and unambiguous. In the same breath the Court reasons that people can implicitly waive their rights through their actions, the Court held a person cannot implicitly, through three hours of silence during an interrogation, invoke her/his right to silence. The Court re-instated the murder conviction, and remanded the case back to Michigan where a jury originally convicted Mr. Thompkins. Justice Sotomayor, dissenting, wrote:
The Court concludes today that a criminal suspect waives his right to remain silent if, after sitting tacit and uncommunicative through nearly three hours of police interrogation, he utters a few one-word responses. The Court also concludes that a suspect who wishes to guard his right to remain silent against such a finding of “waiver” must, counterintuitively, speak-and must do so with sufficient precision to satisfy a clear-statement rule that construes ambiguity in favor of the police. Both propositions mark a substantial retreat from the protection against compelled self-incrimination that Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), has long provided during custodial
interrogation.

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