Miranda v. Arizona
Decided on June 13, 1966; 384 US 436


In order to safeguard the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, the police must advise criminal suspects, prior to interrogation, that anything they say can be used against them in court, that they have the rights to remain silent, to consult with a lawyer and to have one appointed if they are indigent. The interrogation must stop if a suspect wishes to remain silent and, if a lawyer has been requested, until the attorney is present.

 

I. ISSUES II. CASE SUMMARY III. AMICI CURIAE IV. DECISION V. WIN OR LOSS?
I. ISSUES:

A. Issues Discussed: Right against self-incrimination, due process, right to counsel

B. Legal Question Presented:

Are statements, obtained from a defendant questioned while in custody, or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way, and without effective warning of his rights at the outset of the interrogation process, admissible at trial?

II. CASE SUMMARY:

A. Background:

Four cases were decided together by the US Supreme Court. In all of them a confession was obtained by the police during custodial interrogation without the defendants being previously appraised of their rights to counsel, or of their right to remain silent.

Case No. 759: after his arrest, Ernesto Miranda was taken to an interrogation room. He was not informed of his right to counsel or of his privilege against self-incrimination. He signed a typed-up confession, which included a paragraph stating that he made the confession voluntarily and with full understanding of his rights. Based on this confession, he was convicted in an Arizona state court of kidnapping and rape. The Supreme Court of Arizona affirmed.

Case No. 760: during his interrogation, Michael Vignera made an oral confession to the police, and then signed a statement when he was questioned by an assistant district attorney that evening. He was not appraised of his rights to counsel or of his right to remain silent. During trial, the defense was barred from mentioning those facts and the confession was admitted into evidence. New York Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction. 

Case No. 761: Carl Westover was arrested in Kansas City in connection with robberies in Kansas, and was interrogated. He was then handed over to the FBI, and after two more hours of interrogation, he signed two confessions to robberies in California (federal offenses). Confessions made to the FBI were admitted as evidence at trial in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Although he was appraised of his rights prior to questioning by the FBI, the FBI interrogation took place immediately after 15 hours of police interrogation in the same room. The FBI, did not appraise the defendant of his rights prior to their questioning. Defendant's conviction was affirmed by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Case No. 584: Roy Stewart was interrogated on 9 separate occasions during 5 days that he spent in a California police station. After denying his involvement in a kidnapping during eight of those interrogations, he finally confessed. The confession was introduced as evidence and he was convicted in state court. California Supreme Court reversed his conviction because he was never advised of his right to counsel or of his right to remain silent.

On certiorari the Supreme Court reversed Cases Nos. 759, 760 and 761 and affirmed Case N0. 584.

B. Counsel of Record:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
C. The Arguments:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
III. AMICI CURIAE:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal in cases Nos 759, 760 and 761 and affirmance in No 584 were filed by Anthony G. Amsterdam, Paul J. Mishkin, Raymond L. Bradley, Peter Hearn and Melvin L. Wulf filed a brief for the American Civil Liberties Union.

John J. Flynn argued the cause for petitioner in No. 759. With him on the brief was John P. Frank. Victor M. Earle III argued the cause and filed a brief for petitioner in No. 760. F. Conger Fawcett argued the cause and filed a brief for petitioner in No. 761. Gordon Ringer, Deputy Attorney General of California, argued the cause for petitioner in No. 584. With him on the briefs were Thomas C. Lynch, Attorney General, and William E. James, Assistant Attorney General.
Gary K. Nelson, Assistant Attorney General of Arizona, argued the cause for respondent in No. 759. With him on the brief was Darrell F. Smith, Attorney General. William I. Siegel argued the cause for respondent in No. 760. With him on the brief was Aaron E. Koota. Solicitor General Marshall argued the cause for the United States in No. 761. With him on the brief were Assistant Attorney General Vinson, Ralph S. Spritzer, Nathan Lewin, Beatrice Rosenberg and Ronald L. Gainer. William A. Norris, by appointment of the Court, argued the cause and filed a brief for respondent in No. 584.

Telford Taylor, by special leave of Court, argued the cause for the State of New York, as amicus curiae, in all cases. With him on the brief were Louis J. Lefkowitz, Attorney General of New York, Samuel A. Hirshowitz, First Assistant Attorney General, and Barry Mahoney and George D. Zuckerman, Assistant Attorneys General, joined by the Attorneys General for their respective States and jurisdictions as follows: Richmond M. Flowers of Alabama, Darrell F. Smith of Arizona, Bruce Bennett of Arkansas, Duke W. Dunbar of Colorado, David P. Buckson of Delaware, Earl Faircloth of Florida, Arthur K. Bolton of Georgia, Allan G. Shepard of Idaho, William G. Clark of Illinois, Robert C. Londerholm of Kansas, Robert Matthews of Kentucky, Jack P. F. [384 U.S. 436, 439] Gremillion of Louisiana, Richard J. Dubord of Maine, Thomas B. Finan of Maryland, Norman H. Anderson of Missouri, Forrest H. Anderson of Montana, Clarence A. H. Meyer of Nebraska, T. Wade Bruton of North Carolina, Helgi Johanneson of North Dakota, Robert Y. Thornton of Oregon, Walter E. Alessandroni of Pennsylvania, J. Joseph Nugent of Rhode Island, Daniel R. McLeod of South Carolina, Waggoner Carr of Texas, Robert Y. Button of Virginia, John J. O'Connell of Washington, C. Donald Robertson of West Virginia, John F. Raper of Wyoming, Rafael Hernandez Colon of Puerto Rico and Francisco Corneiro of the Virgin Islands.

Duane R. Nedrud, by special leave of Court, argued the cause for the National District Attorneys Association, as amicus curiae, urging affirmance in Nos. 759 and 760, and reversal in No. 584. With him on the brief was Marguerite D. Oberto.
IV. THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION:

"The prosecution may not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way, unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the Fifth Amendment's privilege against self-incrimination.

The privilege against self-incrimination, which has had a long and expansive historical development, is the essential mainstay of our adversary system and guarantees to the individual the "right to remain silent unless he chooses to speak in the unfettered exercise of his own will," during a period of custodial interrogation as well as in the courts or during the course of other official investigations.

In the absence of other effective measures the following procedures to safeguard the Fifth Amendment privilege must be observed:

a) The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he has the right to remain silent, and that anything he says will be used against him in court; he must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation, and that, if he is indigent, a lawyer will be appointed to represent him.

b) If the individual indicates, prior to or during questioning, that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease; if he states that he wants an attorney, the questioning must cease until an attorney is present.

c) Where an interrogation is conducted without the presence of an attorney and a statement is taken, a heavy burden rests on the Government to demonstrate that the defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his right to counsel.

d) Where the individual answers some questions during in-custody interrogation, he has not waived his privilege and may invoke his right to remain silent thereafter.

e) The warnings required and the waiver needed are, in the absence of a fully effective equivalent, prerequisites to the admissibility of any statement, inculpatory or exculpatory, made by a defendant."

Finding that "in each of these cases the statements were obtained under circumstances that did not meet constitutional standards for protection of the privilege against self-incrimination" the Supreme Court reversed the judgments of the Supreme Court of Arizona in No.759, of the New York court of Appeals in No. 760 and of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in No. 761. The judgment of the Supreme Court of California in No. 584 was affirmed.

Justice Vote: 5 Pro vs. 4 Con
  • Warren, E Pro (Wrote majority opinion)
  • Douglas, W. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Brennan, W. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Black, H. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • Fortas, A. Pro (Joined majority opinion)
  • White, B. Con (Wrote dissenting opinion)
  • Harlan, J. Con (Wrote dissenting opinion)
  • Stewart, P. Con (Joined dissenting opinion)
  • Clark, T. Con (Wrote dissenting opinion)
V. A WIN OR LOSS FOR THE ACLU?

The ACLU, as amicus curiae, urged reversal in Nos 759, 760 and 761 and affirmance in No. 584 of judgments of the lower courts; the Supreme Court reversed Nos 759,760, and 761 and affirmed No 584 in a 5-4 vote, giving the ACLU an apparent win.