2 historical supreme court cases

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Article Critique Assignment Instructions


In the Article Critique Assignments, you will systematically and objectively critique criminal justice-related research articles to understand published research. You will critique the strengths and weaknesses of peer-reviewed journal articles and carefully analyze arguments and points in the article. You will develop the technical writing skill of critiquing while furthering critical thinking application and knowledge of the topics investigated. You will incorporate and apply a Christian worldview perspective to each topic and Article Critique Assignment.


· 7 pages excluding the title page, abstract, and reference pages.

· Current APA format.

· Minimum of two (2) peer-reviewed journal articles from Liberty University library. 

· Acceptable sources (peer-reviewed articles published within the last 5-10 years only).

· Include a critique of least two (2) strengths and two (2) weaknesses from each article.

· Include a Christian and Biblical Worldview perspective. 

This Article Critique Assignment requires that you follow a template. Please review and follow the template carefully. Include a running header, title page, abstract (between 120-250 words), proper APA headings/subheadings, and a reference page. Please note that you are asked not to change or omit any of the bold headings that are already in the template. You are only asked to insert your written content into the appropriate sections of the template. 


Article Critique: Dual-Court System and Roles of Courtroom Workgroup Assignment

Locate two (2) peer-reviewed articles no older than 5-10 years that discuss 2 historical Supreme Court cases and review the video titled: “Dual-Court System and Roles of Courtroom Workgroup” found in the module’s Learn section. This historical case law choice is limited to search and seizure, stop and frisk, searches for evidence, or police interrogation and confessions. Chosen articles do not have to be on the same topic although they may be. Find articles related to case law on the aforementioned topics but do not consider articles merely discussing the case law itself. Provide an in-depth discussion of the findings of each article. With respect to the specific case law you have analyzed, defend constitutional democracy and the issues raised in case law from a Christian and Biblical worldview.

Kennesaw State University
DigitalCommons@Kennesaw State University

Master of Science in Criminal Justice Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice


Miranda v. Arizona (1966): Its Impact on
Melissa Beechy
Kennesaw State University

Follow this and additional works at: http://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/mscj_etd

Part of the Criminology Commons, and the Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance

This Thesis is brought to you for free and open access by the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at DigitalCommons@Kennesaw State
University. It has been accepted for inclusion in Master of Science in Criminal Justice by an authorized administrator of DigitalCommons@Kennesaw
State University. For more information, please contact [email protected].

Recommended Citation
Beechy, Melissa, “Miranda v. Arizona (1966): Its Impact on Interrogations” (2014). Master of Science in Criminal Justice. Paper 1.

Miranda v. Arizona (1966):

Its Impact on Interrogations.

A Research Project

submitted to the Faculty of the

Graduate School of Criminal Justice and Sociology

of Kennesaw State University in

partial fulfillment of the requirements for the

degree of Masters of Science

in Criminal Justice


Melissa Beechy

December 2014

Kennesaw, GA


The purpose of this study is to explain the importance of the Miranda warnings on law

enforcement conducting interrogations and the impact they have made on the criminal justice

system. Interrogations conducted by law enforcement are a valuable tool to obtain confessions

to crimes. The Miranda warnings were established to protect individuals suspected of

committing a crime by safeguarding and cautioning them to remain silent and have an attorney

present if requested during custodial interrogation. An extensive literature review on United

States Supreme Court decisions involving the Miranda warnings, the “Reid Technique” on

interrogations, and law journal articles related to the impact of Miranda and The Reid Technique

was conducted to shed a light on the significant case of Miranda v. Arizona (1966). The Reid

Technique is the leading approach to training law enforcement on effective techniques to obtain

admissible confessions.

Key words: Miranda warnings, “Reid Technique,” criminal justice system











The journey and completion of my research project would not have been possible without the support of many
important individuals.

The support of my parents; Thomas and Jo Ann Beechy, who have encouraged and supported me to further my
education by pursing my Masters in Criminal Justice. I appreciate the times my parents have tolerated my absence,
because of studying, writing for my Research Project, and attending classes. The patience my parents have had with
me on not doing my chores because of the endless amount of work to complete the Research Project. Also I am
grateful for my parents on raising an extremely confident and driven young Beechy.

I am very thankful for the help and guidance from my three committee members; Dr. Totten, Dr. Petersen, and Dr.
Fenton. Dr. Totten has spent numerous hours helping me improve my paper, especially from a law point of view. It
has been a pleasure to have been in his class, especially in Law and the Legal Process, which is where I came up
with the topic of my research project. Dr. Totten has taught me the importance and enjoyment of case law and how it
has established the current laws we live by. I only wish Dr. Totten was at KSU during my undergraduate degree, so
I would have discovered sooner my love for case law. I did obtain the highest grade on the Mid-Term and Final in
Law and the Legal Process, which is one of my highest academic achievements at the graduate level. Many laws and
principles I will remember, even after my degree. I will be able to use them in my current profession as a Peace
Officer, with the long term goal of working for the federal government one day.

Dr. Petersen was one of my most influential professors in my undergraduate degree. Dr. Petersen has always
challenged me to think and strive for something higher. Dr. Petersen has always been fair and I enjoyed being in her
class. I knew her classes would not be easy, but with hard work I could be successful. The challenges that she
presented me made me want to become a stronger student. I will always remember certain class topics such as
Ropper v. Simmons (2005), which was a clue that case law is a subject I enjoy researching. I was very fortunate to
have her as my advisor for my undergraduate degree and for pushing me to purse my Masters in Criminal Justice,
where my true passion is.

Dr. Fenton was another influential professor in my undergraduate degree. I only wish I had taken more classes that
he taught. I was a little hesitant about applying to the Master’s program, but his words of wisdom gave me that extra
push that I needed. Thank you for everything you might have done to help my acceptance into the program. Thank
you for the times in your office with advice on law enforcement, which as aided me in becoming an officer.

Thanks to the Powder Springs Police Department for taking a chance on this blonde, educated, and witty applicant
to help me start my career. I am very fortunate to be on such a great shift (Team C!) with awesome officers (Lt. and
Sgt. included). I appreciate them for allowing me to take time off and to leave early to finish my last semester on
my Masters.

In addition, I would like to thank the KSU writing lab with helping me structure my Research Project and helping
me improve my paper. Mainly, I want to thank Patsy Hamby for spending numerous hours with me in the Writing
lab making my paper more reader friendly.

Also, I want to thank two of my very close friends, Katharine Fisher and Richard Jones IV. Katharine has helped me
numerous times on my papers to improve the context. I am thankful for Richard’s input on case law while writing
the Research paper. It has helped me tremendously.

Lastly, I want to thank God, who has given me the strength to start and finish an important goal that I have now

Table of Contents

• Chapter 1: Introduction………………………………………………………………………..1-7

• Chapter 2: Literature Review…………………………………………………..……………7-56

o Cases……………………………………………………………………..…………….7-44

v Cases that led up to the Miranda Decision………………………….…………7-13

ü Brown v. Mississippi…………………………………………………….8-9

ü Gideon v. Wainwright……………………………………………………10

ü Escobedo v. Illinois………………………………………..…………10-11

ü Conclusion…………………………………………………..………..12-13

v Miranda v. Arizona……………………………………………………..…….13-17

v Fifth Amendment Cases Post Miranda……………………………………….17-24

ü Michigan v. Mosley…………………………………………..………17-18

ü Edwards v. Arizona……………………………..……………………19-20

ü Colorado v. Connelly………………………………………………….20-21

ü Maryland v. Shatzer…………………………………………………..21-23

ü Conclusion……………………………………..……………………..23-24

v Remaining Silent……………………………………………….…………….24-27

ü Griffin v. California…………………………….…………………….24-25

ü Doyle v. Ohio…………………………….…………………………..25-26

ü Conclusion………………………………………………………………..27

v Exceptions to the Miranda Warnings…………………………..…………….27-34

ü Rhode Island v. Innis………………………………………..………..28-29

ü New York v. Quarles……………………………………..…………..29-30

ü Illinois v. Perkins……………………………………………………..30-31

ü Pennsylvania v. Muniz………………………………………………..32-33

ü Conclusion…………………………………………………………….33-34

v FOPT where police fail to provide the Miranda Warnings………….……….34-44

ü Harris v. New York………………………………………..…………35-36

ü Brewer v. Williams (Nix v. Williams)……..………..……………….36-37

ü Oregon v. Elstad………………………………..…………………….38-39

ü Dickerson v. United States…………………………….……………..39-40

ü United States v. Patane……………………………………………….40-41

ü Missouri v. Seibert……………………………………………………41-43

ü Conclusion………………………………………………………..…..43-44

o John Reid Literature Review……………………………………..…………………..44-51

o Impact of interrogations in light of the law………………………….……………….51-57

v Shining the Bright Light on Police Interrogations in America……………….51-52

v Police Science in the Interrogation Room: Seventy Years of Pseudo-

Psychological Interrogation Methods to Obtain Inadmissible Confessions…….52-53

v Conclusion…………………………………………………………………….53-54

v Handcuffing the Cops …………………………………………….………….54-55

v Conclusion…………………………………………………………..………..55-56

v The Impact of Miranda on Police Effectuality ………………………………….56

v Custodial Police Interrogation in our Nation’s Capital: The Attempt to Implement


v Conclusion ………………………………………………………………..……..57

• Chapter 3: Methodology…………………………………………………………..………..57-60

• Chapter 4: Findings……………………………………………………………….………..60-65

• Chapter 5: Discussion & Conclusion……………………………………………………….65-75

o Discussion…………………………………………………………………………….65-70

v Salinas v. Texas……………………………………………………..………..66-69

v Improvement in the Law………….…………………………….…………….69-70

o Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………70-76


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Miranda warnings, “The Reid Technique,” interrogations, and confessions all contribute

to the investigative process within criminal justice system. A fair criminal justice system is the

goal for its citizens. The Miranda warnings purpose was to provide fairness for both the suspect

and the police by establishing rules. The Miranda warnings provided the right to remain silent

and the right to have an attorney present during custodial interrogation. The Miranda warnings

were created because procedures were unfair and, through case law, gradually over time the

treatment of suspects became more fair. The “Reid Technique” has provided police with ethical

and reliable means of interrogation to obtain confessions. In order for a confession to be

admissible in court the Miranda warnings are stated to the suspect in custody prior to

interrogation. This is important when implementing the “Reid Technique.”

The decision in the Miranda v. Arizona (1966) case has significantly impacted the

criminal justice system. The Miranda warnings were primarily established because of

involuntary confessions sometimes obtained by dishonest law enforcement agents. Prior to the

decision in 1966, police may have abused their power during interrogations to derive information

they needed in the form of a confession. Some law enforcement officers used scare tactics and

unethical judgment to obtain suspects’ confessions, possibly admitting to a crime they did not

commit (Brown v. Mississippi, 1936). For example, striking suspects with a phone book is not

the correct way to encourage a suspect to discuss their involvement in a crime.

The warnings were also established to help individuals understand their rights so they can

make an intelligent, knowing, and voluntary decision on whether to waive those rights. After

understanding their rights, individuals are able to make an educated decision when questioned by

police. All suspects have rights which have been established over the past several decades.

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In light of the Supreme Court decision regarding the Miranda case, police departments’

strategies on speaking to suspects has been impacted. Law enforcement has changed their ways

of approaching suspects. Case law has influenced law enforcement to change their ways to

establish lawful tactics towards suspects. The conflict of how to justly and fairly extract

information has not been completely resolved but has significantly improved since the period

leading up to the1960’s.

Today, Miranda Warnings have significantly impacted this type of police work by

helping to avoid coercion and involuntary statements by suspects during custodial interrogations.

Improvements in police departments have established a more ethical and policy focused

approach to improve the criminal justice system. Most police departments have established a “no

tolerance” policy for unethical behavior, which aids the police on how to properly address

interrogations (Georgia POST, 2013). Law enforcement consistently seeks effective strategies to

aid them in the pursuit of justice.

The Wickersham Commission Report (1931) publicized police interrogation techniques

of abuse by coercing confessions through physical means (Wice, 1996, p.45). The Wickersham

Commission Report was the first systematic study of police misconduct (Hall, 1997, p.4),

conducted on a national level (Hall, 1997, p.7). The study found that police misconduct during

the 1930’s had been an ongoing problem for decades (Hall, 1997, p.8), concluding that police

used physical brutality towards suspects to obtain involuntary confessions, commonly using

threats and intimidation. The report identified these issues, influencing police staff to reform

(Hall, 1997, p.10).

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Over time, suspects’ rights and protections have been impacted through case law, which

has set a precedent for future cases that will be decided. Police maintain order through these

laws every day at work. Suspects’ incriminating statements in the past have been used against

them unfairly, and the Miranda warnings have established a safeguard to now protect those

statements. The Miranda warnings have become a critical component of police interrogation

policies; officers must read them word for word, in case the suspect in custody should make any

incriminating statements. Once the warnings have been stated, the suspect’s statement will not

be excluded on a technicality in court. Police interview and interrogate many suspects over the

span of their careers. If police want a confession to be admissible at trial, they must prove it was

voluntary, knowingly, and intelligently stated.

Interrogations are a vital step in obtaining a confession from a suspect who committed a

crime. Many criminal cases are not easily solved because the evidence may be unsubstantiated,

and the confession is needed to proceed with the case. The purpose of police interrogations is to

find the perpetrator who committed the crime and bring him or her to justice. Cases have been

compromised at trial because police officers did not state the Miranda warnings prior to

interrogation and thereby jeopardized the admissibility of the confession.

The Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments clarify the primary rights suspects have

during a police interview or interrogation. For the purposes of this study, the Fifth Amendment

is the primary area to be researched. The Fifth Amendment ensures that the government may not

compel individuals to testify against themselves, thereby protecting them from self-incrimination

(Bill of Rights Institute, 2010). The Supreme Court Miranda v. Arizona (1966, determined that

law enforcement agents must inform the suspect, among other rights, of their Fifth Amendment

right to remain silent and that he or she is allowed to refuse to answer questions. If this right is

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violated, the confession will generally be deemed inadmissible at trial, at least in the prosecutor’s

case (Bill of Rights Institute, 2010).

Training is critical for law enforcement officers to properly conduct interviews and

interrogations to obtain information on a case that can lead to an arrest and a conviction. The

primary goal of detectives and police officers is to identify the correct perpetrator and obtain a

voluntary confession and to seek justice for the victim by putting the criminal behind bars.

Officers must be trained to properly conduct interrogations to elicit confessions to a crime. Time

and experience can help improve the interrogation process, and the officers must also learn

effective techniques on proper interrogation of a suspect.

During the mid 1900’s, two men, John E. Reid and Fred E. Inbau, collaborated in

forming “The Reid Technique,” now widely used. Inbau, a professor of criminal law, began

working for the Chicago Police Department, where he met Reid, an officer working on

polygraphs. The two men created strategies to be utilized by law enforcement agents to obtain

confessions during interrogations. The technique is based on a psychological approach that

minimizes the seriousness of the criminal act and rationalizes the reasons for the act to make the

suspect feel more comfortable in talking about the crime (Reid, Inbau, Buckley, Jayne, 2004, p.

preface 1).

The Reid Technique is only to be used after a suspect is read their Miranda warnings.

Reid and his associates during their seminars for law enforcement teach the attendees to read the

Miranda warnings prior to interrogation. During the interview stage the Miranda warnings are

not needed. Once the questioning becomes accusatory or when the suspect might possibly make

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incriminating statements the interrogator needs to already of Mirandaized the suspect to ensure

that any incriminating statements made will be admissible in trial (Reid & Associates, 2013).

While Reid and his associates believe they have mastered the art of interrogations, many

scholarly authors criticize the technique and have spoken their opinions. These authors claim the

methods Reid implements causes false confessions (Gallini, 2010 & Godsey, 2009). Reid

Techniques success is often criticized.

The three main questions will be addressed in this research paper:

(1) Why did the Miranda warnings start?

(2) Have the Miranda warnings made the justice system more fair? If so, for whom?

(3) Is the “Reid Technique” valid in light of the law?

All these questions are important to research to better understand our justice system. The

Miranda decision has provided noteworthy outcomes in criminal cases over the years, such as,

Dickerson v. United States (2000) and Maryland v. Shatzer (2010). The Miranda decision has

made law enforcement officers alter their approaches to obtaining confessions (Gallini, 2010).

The significance of this study is to show how the Miranda warnings have improved police work

while still keeping the same confession rate. The safeguards established by the Miranda

warnings to suspects help ensure statements made to police can be used in court, and the “Reid

Technique” has led to many confessions. The research questions, once answered, will reveal the

significance of the Miranda v. Arizona (1966) case and its impact on future cases.

Chapter 1of the research project is the introduction of the landmark decision of Miranda

v. Arizona (1966) and how it affected the criminal justice system. It also highlights the

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techniques of interrogation created by John E. Reid. The chapter explores the Bill of Rights,

mainly the Fifth Amendment, and how it intertwines with the Miranda warnings. This chapter

also reflects the importance of the study, stating the research questions explored throughout the


Chapter 2 is an extensive literature review of the material that pertains to the research

questions. The review starts with cases that led up to the Miranda Decision: Brown v.

Mississippi (1936), Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), and Escobedo v. Illinois (1964). Next,

Chapter 2 relates details of the Miranda case. It also identifies several significant Supreme Court

cases in particular that have impacted the Miranda decision over time, including these areas:

Fifth Amendment Cases Post Miranda: Effect of Invocation of Rights & Waiver, Remaining

Silent, Exceptions to the Miranda Warnings, and Fruit of the Poisonous Tree and Its exceptions

where police fail to provide the Miranda Warnings. These issues implicate how an interrogation

is defined and whether or not the suspect was actually interrogated. In addition, Chapter 2

includes a detailed literature review of “The Reid Technique” created by John Reid and Fred

Inbau and the validity it holds under the law. Lastly, in this chapter the impact of interrogations

in light of the law is addressed, in particular any changes in the confession rate because of the

Miranda warnings and the impact the law has had in this area of police interrogations.

Chapter 3 is the methodology section, which describes how the research questions are

addressed by explaining how the information was collected and analyzed into the construction of

the paper. Chapter 4 explains the findings derived from empirical studies of the impact of

Miranda. Scholarly work has found no significant decrease in the confession rate following

Miranda. This section will address the questions surrounding how Miranda came about, the

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impact of Miranda on the justice system (i.e., the fairness question), and the legitimacy overall of

Reid Technique in light of the law.

Chapter 5 presents the discussion and conclusions of the study. The discussion will

analyze the information and other assessments made by scholars regarding the impact of the

Miranda warnings and the legal implications of the “Reid Technique.” Policy implications will

be discussed in light of their effect on current laws. Lastly, the conclusion will highlight the

importance of this topic by explaining the results from the research questions. The impact and

effect the Miranda warnings and the “Reid Technique” have on police, suspects, and the courts

will be addressed, and ideas for future research to extend this area of study will be discussed.

Literature Review: Cases

Cases that led up to the Miranda Decision

Prior Supreme Court cases provided “steppingstones” to the Miranda decision. The main

cases that were “steppingstones” include Brown v. Mississippi (1936), Gideon v. Wainwright

(1963), and Escobedo v. Illinois (1964). These three cases all led to the decision in the Miranda

v. Arizona (1966) case, and if not for them, the Supreme Court may not have arrived at its

conclusions in the Miranda case. These cases were chosen because of their significant impact on

change in the legal system on law enforcement approach to suspects and the increase in

individuals’ rights in court to properly provide a fair trial. Also, quite possibly police could still

be using coercive tactics in obtaining confessions.

Brown v. Mississippi

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In the Brown v. Mississippi (1936) case, lawyers and judges started to realize the

unethical approaches law enforcement used for interrogations, which sometimes led to false

confessions.1 Law enforcement needed to make changes to their tactics for obtaining

confessions. The Brown v. Mississippi (1936) case was significant because the police physically

tortured suspects until they confessed to a murder they did not commit.

On March 30, 1934, Raymond Stewart, a white male, was murdered. Another man,

Elington, a black male, was detained by the sheriff and taken to the victim’s house, where

several white men were waiting. They asked Elington if he had killed the victim, and after he

denied involvement, the men seized him. They hanged him with a rope around his neck for a

short period of time, and then released him. The white men asked Elington again if he had killed

the victim, and Elington again denied the allegations. So they hanged him a second time for a

short period, and Elington then yielded to their demands and confessed to killing Raymond

Stewart. Ellington’s Fourth Amendment right was violated because he had been seized by the

sheriff without probable cause supported by an arrest warrant. This is a statute that the State

Supreme Court based its holding on due process (Brown v. Mississippi, 1936, p. 279, 281).2 The

Eighth Amendment bans cruel and unusual punishment, which was also violated because the

application of torture and physical force inflicted by the police (Bill of Rights Institute, 2010).

The sheriff arrested two other men, Ed Brown and Henry Shields (two black males), and

escorted them to jail on suspicion of their involvement in Stewart’s murder. While the two men

were at the jail, the sheriff and several other white men forced them to strip and began whipping

them repeatedly until they confessed to the murder of Raymond Stewart in significant detail, as

1 297 U.S. Reports 278 (1936)
2 The findings of the lower courts mentioned in this paper, including those courts’ holdings, judgments and/ or
rationales, were retrieved from the United States Supreme Court cases. Therefore, citations to this material appear
in the format used for United States Supreme Court cases.

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coerced by the sheriff. The two men were warned that if they decided to change their story, the

white men would be back to “finish what they started.” On April 4,, 1934 the case was indicted

by a grand jury (Brown v. Mississippi, 1936, p. 279, 282).

The only evidence against the suspects was their confessions. During the trial, the marks

on the bodies of the accused that they endured from the hanging and whipping were visible to the

jury. The sheriff admitted that the defendants were whipped, and he implied they endured a low

level of pain. At trial, the suspects testified, telling the jury that the confessions were false and

that the police tortured them until they confessed. The defendants were all found guilty and

sentenced to death (Brown v. Mississippi, 1936, p. 279, 284).

The defendants submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court of Mississippi on the grounds

of error regarding the inadmissibility of their confessions. The Supreme Court of Mississippi

reviewed the case and agreed with the lower court’s decision. The defendants took their case to

the United States Supreme Court, which granted the writ of certiorari. The United States

Supreme Court reviewed the case, and in a unanimous decision the Court reversed the lower

court’s decision. The defendants’ confessions were not made voluntarily and of their own free

will but were coerced by the police through tortuous means. The sheriffs violated the defendants’

Fourteenth Amendment right of due process of the law. The United States Supreme Court based

its holding on due process (Brown v. Mississippi, 1936, p. 280-281).

Gideon v. Wainwright

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Clarence Gideon was charged with breaking and entering a poolroom with the intent of

committing a misdemeanor crime. In the Florida State Trial Court he was charged with a felony

and he requested counsel but was denied due to his not having been charged with a capital

offense. After being denied counsel, he fought his case to the best of his knowledge, by

questioning witnesses and invoking his Fifth Amendment right. During trial, Gideon protested

his innocence, but the jury found him guilty, and he was sentenced to five years in prison

(Gideon v. Wainwright, 1963, p. 337).

Gideon filed a habeas corpus petition to Florida’s Supreme Court on the grounds that he

had been denied his Sixth Amendment right to counsel to aid him at trial. The Florida Supreme

Court denied his petition, so he appealed to the United States Supreme Court, who granted

certiorari and reversed and remanded the lower trial court decision. The United States Supreme

Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause requires the states to provide

defendants in all criminal felony proceedings their Sixth Amendment right to counsel unless

intelligently waived by the defendant. The United States Court reversed the decision and sent it

back to the state trial court to continue proceedings in accordance with its decision (Gideon v.

Wainwright, 1963, p. 338).

Escobedo v. Illinois

Danny Escobedo, along with his sister, were primary suspects in the fatal shooting of

Danny’s brother-in-law on January 19, 1960. The police conducted a warrantless arrest of

Escobedo and started to interrogate him. During interrogation, Escobedo requested a lawyer to

be present but was denied several times, and soon after he was released. The police subsequently

indicted another man in relation to the murder, and he confessed to firing the shots that killed the

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victim. The police again arrested Escobedo, and on the way to the police station they told him

that another man named Escobedo was the one who shot the victim. While in the police car on

the way to the station, Escobedo requested a lawyer (Escobedo v. Illinois, 1964, p. 479).

At the station, the suspect’s lawyer was waiting and repeatedly asked to speak with his

client but was denied. The defendant was told that his lawyer did not want to see him, which

was a lie. The police continued their interrogation, disregarding the suspect’s request for a

lawyer and intentionally denying the lawyer, who was present at the police station, access to his

client. The police during interrogation also never mentioned Escobedo’s right to remain silent.

The police were trying to use the other man’s fictitious role in the murder against Escobedo to

obtain a confession, emphasizing that the blame would be on the other man and not, in fact, on

the defendant. Escobedo made incriminating statements about his role in the murder of his

brother-in-law, and those statements were admitted into evidence at trial. During the trial, his

lawyer tried to suppress the incriminating statements made by his defendant, but his motion was

denied and the defendant was found guilty of murder (Escobedo v. Illinois, 1964, p. 480).

Escobedo appealed his case to the Illinois Supreme Court, who concurred with the lower

court’s decision. The next step was a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court,

which they granted, and they reviewed the case. On February 1, 1963, the United States

Supreme Court found that the accused was denied his right to counsel, which was in violation of

his Sixth Amendment right; therefore, any statements he made should have been excluded at

trial. The defendant’s conviction was reversed by the United States Supreme Court. An overall

“test” was created by Escobedo v. Illinois (1964): the attorney is provided if the suspect

“becomes the focus of the interrogation by police” (Escobedo v. Illinois, 1964, p. 483).

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Brown v. Mississippi (1936), Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), and Escobedo v. Illinois

(1964) were all pre-Miranda cases that were “steppingstones” to the main decision. The 1930’s

to the 1960’s was a tremendous period for suspects to earn their rights and to receive aid at trial.

All of these cases improved the criminal justice system, assuring suspects fair treatment and their

rights under the law.

The Mississippi v. Brown (1936) case clearly arose from racial prejudices by law

enforcement towards suspects.3 In the South during these times (1930’s), racial conflict was

common, and law enforcement often made decisions based on race. This period provided the

beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, when the South was not a safe place for people of

color. This case shows that law enforcement must not use physical or verbal coercion to obtain

confessions, especially false confessions. The Courts will not tolerate such behavior from law


The case of Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) brought the Sixth Amendment right to counsel

to the states during the 1960’s. Through the Fourteenth Amendment, due process now includes

the right to have an attorney for state felony cases, not only federal.4 The Argersinger v. Hamlin

(1972) case extended attorney rights to State misdemeanor trials where defendants faces jail

time. The Brown v. Mississippi (1936) and Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) cases have established

more rights and protections for individuals so law enforcement conducts cases in an ethical

manner to ensure all the evidence can be used at trial.

3 297 U.S. Reports 278 (1936)
4 372 U.S. Reports 335 (1963)

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The Escobedo v. Illinois (1964) case provided additional rights for defendants as it

established that state police need to notify suspects of their right to remain silent and to have an

attorney present if requested by the time the suspects becomes the focus of investigation by

police. This significant case occurred immediately prior to the landmark decision in Miranda v.

Arizona (1966). The Escobedo case gave the right to counsel during pre-indictment police

interrogations, but until Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), this right was not provided in state court

litigations (i.e., trials).

Miranda v. Arizona

One of the most significantly historical Supreme Court cases was Miranda v. Arizona

(1966). This case provides a landmark decision that still is used in every law enforcement

agency today when dealing with suspects during arrests and interrogations. All the prior cases

mentioned led to this decision. The Miranda warnings were established so suspects would

understand their rights; in addition, they exist for police to be able to establish that any

confessions obtained after providing the warnings were knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily

made, and therefore are admissible in court. Following Miranda, the police could no longer

ignore a suspect’s request for attorney or coerce suspects into making involuntary statements and

expect those statements to be admissible at trial (Miranda v. Arizona, 1966).

The facts of the Miranda case are as follows: On March 3, 1963, in Phoenix, Arizona, an

eighteen-year-old female, after walking home from work, was tied and kidnapped. The suspect

drove the female to a deserted area and raped her, after which he drove her back to the place he

kidnapped her and released her. The female called the police and told them what had happened;

the statements she made were inconsistent. A car that had frequently been seen being driven

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around the neighborhood was noticed by the victim’s brother, and he reported the sighting to the

police, who traced the car back to a woman and her boyfriend, Ernest Miranda (Wice, 1996, p. 9-

10 & Miranda v. Arizona, 1966, p.518).

A week later, Miranda, a 23-year-old man of Mexican descent, was arrested in his home

and taken into custody. The female victim positively identified Miranda as her attacker. The

police escorted Miranda to the police station at 8:30 AM; he had just left work and therefore did

not have much sleep (Wice, 1996, p. 11). The Phoenix police interrogated Miranda for

approximately two hours, at which time Miranda did not have counsel. During the interrogation,

Miranda at first denied any involvement in a crime. After a two hour interrogation, Miranda

yielded to police questioning and provided a verbal confession. Police typed a statement of

confession that night and asked Miranda to sign the paper, which he did (Miranda v. Arizona,

1966, p.518).

At trial, Miranda obtained a court appointed attorney, whose prior practice was civil

litigation; therefore, the attorney had little criminal law experience. Miranda’s confession was

admitted even though the defense counsel objected. The defense attorney did mention, however,

that the victim’s statements to the police were inconsistent (Wice, 1996, p. 18-19). Miranda was

found guilty of the rape and kidnapping; he was convicted and sentenced to twenty to thirty years

of incarceration (Miranda v. Arizona, 1966, p.493).

The issues in the original Miranda trial include: (1) whether the defendant was under

arrest at the time he made a confession; (2) whether he should have been represented by counsel;

and (3) whether he had been told that any statement he made could be used against him in a court

of law. The lower court allowed these issues to be admissible in court because at the time they

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were not identified as issues. Because of these issues, Miranda appealed his case to the Arizona

Supreme Court on December 10, 1963. The confession was reviewed to see whether it had been

voluntary. The Escobedo case was also examined regarding legal counsel. A significant way the

Escobedo case differs from Miranda is that Miranda did not request a lawyer, but Escobedo had

requested one. The Arizona Supreme Court concluded that Miranda’s confession was made

voluntarily; no threats or promises were made, and he understood his rights because of prior

encounters with law enforcement. The Arizona Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s

decision (Wice, 1996, p. 20-24 & Miranda v. Arizona, 1966, p.518).

Miranda, while incarcerated, heard about the Gideon court decision, which established

that poor defendants had a constitutional right to legal counsel for felony charges at trial in state

courts (Wice, 1996, p. 25). Miranda, who sought new counsel, appealed his case to the United

States Supreme Court, and they granted the writ of certiorari on November 22, 1965 (Wice,

1996, p. 34). The Supreme Court reviewed the confession in light of the Fifth Amendment; it

also looked at the Sixth Amendment right to counsel as it related to the states. Finally, the

Fourteenth Amendment was examined because it may have been violated as a result of all

citizens having a right to due process through a fair trial (Wice, 1996, p. 49).

The United States Supreme Court decision in the Miranda case was a consolidated

verdict based on four cases (three state and one federal) involving custodial interrogations. The

U.S. Supreme Court reversed three cases and affirmed one (Miranda v. Arizona, 1966, p.525).5

In the Miranda case, a five to four majority judgment was issued by the Court, setting forth a

milestone for defendant’s rights during interrogations. The decision was based on the fact that

5 The three other cases are: (1) Vignera v. New York, (2)Westover v. United States, and (3) California v. Stewart

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the defendant was not told about his right to counsel nor did police warn him of his right to

remain silent (Miranda v. Arizona, 1966, p.493).

While this case provides a major turn in events, it was also a very close decision (five to

four). The Miranda case set a precedent for all police officers that for a confession to be

admissible in court, they need to state the Miranda warnings to the suspect prior to custodial

interrogation to safeguard the suspect’s rights. This landmark case established the requirement to

read the suspects their rights, but after the Miranda warnings are read, if counsel is requested, the

police must stop the interrogation. One significant addition from the Miranda decision

introduced a defendant’s Fifth Amendment rights during a custodial interrogation (Miranda v.

Arizona, 1966, p.527). The case is prior to charges being filed against the defendant, so it falls

within Fifth Amendment and not Sixth Amendment rights.

The Miranda warnings, or “rights,” state:

“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 provided for you. Do you understand the rights I

have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?” 6

This warning is stated to all suspects before custodial interrogation to ensure that the

suspect understands his or her rights and to ascertain whether the suspect wishes to waive them.

Verification of having informed the suspect of his rights is the only means whereby statements

may now be admissible in trial. This decision has made law enforcement more mindful when

6 MirandaWarning.org (n.d.)


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trying to obtain confessions and has helped verify that suspects understand their rights, which in

turn, has made the criminal justice system into a more fair playing field in the battle for justice.

Ironically, Miranda was granted a new trial in which the confession was inadmissible, but

he was found guilty none-the-less. After the litigation process to improve the criminal justice

system, his case ended with the same result: Guilty as charged. The case inevitably provided

headway for every person interrogated by police in custody to understand his or her rights. After

Miranda had been imprisoned for many years, he was released. Soon after his release, he

engaged in a bar fight and was stabbed with a knife and killed. The person who killed him was

read his Miranda warnings (Wice, 1996, p. 113).

Fifth Amendment Cases Post Miranda: Effect of Invocation of Rights & Waiver

The Fifth Amendment is significant when it comes to Miranda warnings. All suspects

have the right to not incriminate themselves under the Amendment. Once the Miranda warnings

have been stated to a suspect, he or she now has the choice to waive the warnings or to remain

silent (i.e., not incriminate his or her self). The Miranda rights also include the right to an

attorney to ascertain the questioning is proper and to aid the suspect answering questions. If a

suspect does not waive his rights, when can the police again question him? The cases of

Michigan v. Mosley (1975), Edwards v. Arizona (1981), Colorado v. Connelly (1986), and

Maryland v. Shatzer (2010) answer these questions.

Michigan v. Mosley

On April 8, 1971, in Detroit, Michigan, Richard Mosley was arrested for his involvement

in several robberies. At the police station, Mosley was advised of his Miranda warnings and

soon after a law enforcement officer began to interview Mosley. He declined to talk stating, “I

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don’t want to answer any questions.” The interrogation ended, but at no time did Mosley request

a lawyer (Michigan v. Mosley, 1975, p. 97).

Later, a different law enforcement agent asked Mosley about a fatal shooting incident, a

separate incident from the arrest incident. The agent advised Mosley again of his Miranda rights.

During the interrogation, Mosley at first denied any involvement until the agent mentioned an

accomplice who confessed and incriminated Mosley as the main shooter. Mosley then made self-

incriminating statements about his own involvement in the homicide. During the entire

interrogation, Mosley never asked for counsel, nor did he ask to terminate the conversation

(Michigan v. Mosley, 1975, p. 98).

During trial, Mosley’s attorney attempted to have the confession thrown out, which was

denied, and Mosley was found guilty of murder in the first degree. Mosley’s attorney appealed to

the Michigan Supreme Court, and they concurred with the lower court’s decision. Mosley then

appealed to the United States Supreme Court, who granted a writ of certiorari (Michigan v.

Mosley, 1975, p. 99).

The Court noted that Mosley was questioned on two occasions for two different crimes

and by two different law enforcement agents in two different locations over an extended period

of time. Because at the first encounter Mosley decided to remain silent and not answer any

questions and the police honored the request and ceased the questioning, police could re-

approach Mosley a second time and interrogate him about a different crime. The court of appeals

verdict was vacated on the case and remanded (Michigan v. Mosley, 1975, p. 107).

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Edwards v. Arizona

In the Edwards v. Arizona (1976) case, on January 19, 1976, Edwards was arrested in his

home for robbery, burglary, and murder. Edwards was escorted to the police station, where he

was advised of his Miranda warnings, and at the time he agreed to speak to the police. The

defendant asked to plea-bargain with the police, but he wanted a lawyer present before any

additional questioning. At this point the police ended the interrogation and took Edwards back to

his holding cell (Edwards v. Arizona, 1981, p.479).

The next day detectives approached Edwards and told him that he was required to speak

with them, and a second interrogation was conducted during which he was given his Miranda

warnings again, and Edwards confessed to the crime. Prior to going to trial, Edwards attempted

to suppress his initial confession from the second interrogation because the police questioned

him after he requested an attorney be present during the first interrogation. The second

interrogation therefore violated his Fifth Amendment rights stemming from the Miranda

warnings. The judge at the trial court denied the motion to exclude his confession. Edwards was

found guilty and convicted because the judge determined that Edwards’ confession was

voluntary (Edwards v. Arizona, 1981, p.480).

Edwards appealed his conviction to the Arizona Supreme Court, who concurred with the

lower court’s decision. The United States Supreme Court granted the writ of certiorari and

unanimously reversed the Supreme Court of Arizona’s decision, finding that because Edwards

requested his right to counsel during the first interrogation, the police should not have

subsequently reinitiated the interrogation without a lawyer present. The Supreme Court

concluded that Edwards’ confession violated his Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights because

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the police questioned him without legal representation after his initial request for an attorney.

The Supreme Court also concluded that the police had no grounds to tell Edwards that he had to

talk to them, thereby making his confession inadmissible (Edwards v. Arizona, 1981, p.480-481).

Colorado v. Connelly

On August 18, 1983, Francis Connelly approached an officer and stated that he murdered

someone and wanted to clear his conscience. The officer immediately read the suspect his

Miranda warnings, and Connelly said he understood and still wanted to speak to the police.

Connelly proceeded to confesses to a murder. A detective was called, and Connelly was

transported to the police station. The detective re-Mirandized the suspect, and Connelly waived

his rights once again. Connelly gave a detailed story of the murder and offered to take the

officers to the location where the murder took place. Throughout the entire encounter the suspect

did not seem to be suffering from a mental disorder. The suspect was placed in a jail cell, and the

next day he told the public defender that voices in his head compelled him to go to the police and

confess. After providing this statement, Connelly was evaluated and found incompetent, but at a

later time he was found to be competent to stand trial (Colorado v. Connelly, 1986, p.161-162).

At trial the defendant moved to suppress his confession to the murder because he was

suffering from schizophrenia. The psychiatrist from the state believed the defendant understood

his rights when the police Mirandized him. The judge agreed to suppress the confession based

on the fact that it was involuntary. The Colorado Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s

decision. The blame is not placed on the police for how they obtained the confession, but rather

the mental capacity of the suspect constituted involuntariness (Colorado v. Connelly, 1986,


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The United States Supreme Court heard the case and came to a different conclusion,

reversing the State Court’s decision based on the fact that the confession should not have been

suppressed. The basis that the confession was involuntary under the due process clause was not

accurate. The lower courts erred by concluding the confession was involuntary because the

defendant had voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waived the Miranda warnings. Police did

not abuse or otherwise take advantage of Connelly’s vulnerabilities (Colorado v. Connelly, 1986,


Maryland v. Shatzer

At what point can the police re-interrogate the defendant after the defendant requests a

lawyer? Maryland v. Shatzer (2010) addresses this question because it established a 14 day

expiration to the invocation of the Miranda right to an attorney. Prior to this case, the court was

ambivalent regarding when police could safely begin a second interrogation of suspects without

the confession being in violation of their Fifth Amendment rights.

In 2003, Shatzer, a prison inmate, was questioned by a detective about allegations in

relation to sexually abusing his son (he was sentenced on other crimes not related to sexual

abuse), and at that point, Shatzer refused to speak to the detective without counsel present, so the

detective ceased the interrogation (Maryland v. Shatzer, 2010, p.99-100).

Approximately two and half years later, in 2006, the allegations of sexual abuse towards

Shatzer’s son were revisited with additional evidence. Shatzer was questioned by different

investigators and advised of his Miranda rights, but this time he decided to waive them and speak

to the investigators, and he submitted to a polygraph. Shatzer failed the polygraph and verbally

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admitted to sexual misconduct in the presence of his son; soon thereafter, he requested an

attorney (Maryland v. Shatzer, 2010, p.99-100).

The defendant was charged with the sexual crimes to which he had confessed and at trial,

Shatzer waived his right to a jury and tried to suppress his confession by claiming the protections

established in Edwards v. Arizona (1966). The judge denied the defendant’s motion and

convicted him of sexual abuse. The judge stated that the Edwards case does not apply because

the defendant had two and half years between the two interrogations and that the first set of

Miranda warnings and ascertain of Miranda right to counsel had expired (Maryland v. Shatzer,

2010, p.99-100).

The case was granted certiorari by the United States Supreme Court in 2010 to

determinate the legality of “the break” between the two interrogations. The justices agreed that a

time limit should apply in the Edwards case, and they conducted a “cost and benefit analysis.”

The length of the break, two and half years, renders Shatzer’s waiver at the second interrogation

voluntary, and this case established how much time must elapse before an initial invocation of

the right to on attorney expires under Miranda (Maryland v. Shatzer, 2010, p.101).

The Court established a 14 day rule for a “break” in custody for a law enforcement

officer to re-interrogate a suspect who initially requested an attorney and for any waiver at a

subsequent interrogation to be deemed voluntary. The Supreme Court rationalized that the

defendant returned to his typical lifestyle and he could easily have consulted with an attorney if

he chose to do so. The court defined “normal” as the basic return to life prior to the interrogation,

including prison life. In a nine-zero decision, the United States Supreme Court reversed the

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appeal court’s decision and remanded the Shazter case based on the newly established 14 day

limitation for a suspect in custody (Maryland v. Shatzer, 2010, p.111).


The Michigan v. Mosley (1975), Edwards v. Arizona (1981), Colorado v. Connelly

(1986), and Maryland v. Shatzer (2010) cases establish when a suspect may be re-interrogated by

providing rules and / or time limits on the Miranda warnings and the accompanying assertion of

Miranda rights. Police now have a time frame and / or guidelines for subsequent questioning of

a suspect without violating their rights of remaining silent or their request for a lawyer as

provided in the Fifth Amendment. These cases have made the criminal justice system more fair

by clearly defining a time frame and establishing principles for police to follow if a suspect

invokes his or her Miranda rights. The criminal justice system has finally addressed the “when”

question related to Miranda right of suspected criminal involvement. For example, under

Maryland v. Shatzer (2010), after 14 days have lapsed, one’s Miranda rights for binding a

previous interrogation and assertion of the attorney right have also lapsed.

The Edwards v. Arizona (1981) case has made the criminal justice system more fair for

individuals by creating safeguards to protect their rights against a second interrogation after

request of counsel has been made initially. The police also used coercion when stating that

Edwards had to talk to them, which made the defendant believe he had no choice; his

incriminating statement was therefore involuntary and not of free will.

In Miranda v. Arizona (1966) and Edwards v. Arizona (1981), the cases basically

attempted to prevent suspects from unintentionally waiving their Fifth Amendment rights, and

their objective was to prevent self incrimination in addition to guaranteeing that any custodial

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statements made are voluntary. Generally, regarding Fifth Amendment rights under the Miranda

warnings, if a suspect requests legal counsel most interrogations must come to a halt until a

lawyer is present. Substantive exceptions do exist, which may include public safety, but this

exception was not present here (i.e., in Edwards Miranda)(Edwards v. Arizona, 1981, p.482).

In the Colorado v. Connelly (1986) case the police acted within the law, and the suspect

did on his own free will, voluntarily, and without coercion confess to the murder that he

committed. The issue of what constitutes a valid waiver of the Miranda rights. His mental

capacity on whether or not Connelly could waive his Miranda rights. The Courts established that

in this particular case he was mentally capable to waive his Miranda rights. The courts now have

a better understanding because of case law like Connelly regarding the mental capacity of a

person and the way police may conduct the interrogation. This process leads to making the courts

more fair in their judgments in similar situations. The Shatzer case established a 14 day rule for

law enforcement to wait before they can re-Mirandaize a suspect and to re-interrogate a suspect.

Remaining Silent

As part of the Miranda warnings, suspects are told they can remain silent because if they

waive their rights, any statements made can be used against them in a court of law. The cases of

Griffin v. California (1965) and Doyle v. Ohio (1976) have increased fairness under law in

regards to the right of remaining silent.

Griffin v. California

A basis for violation of due process of law under the Fourteenth Amendment occurs in

Griffin v. California (1965). In this case, Griffin was convicted of first degree murder in a Los

Angeles, CA courtroom. Griffin exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination

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and chose not to testify at trial. The prosecutor commented to the jury that the defendant had

refused to testify on his own behalf (Griffin v. California, 1965, p.609). Before the jury pool

began deliberation, the judge mentioned that Griffin’s silence could be held against him. The

jury pool is supposed to receive directions from the judge prior to deliberation, but they should

not be told an opinion from the judge on the defendant’s innocence or guilt. The jury found

Griffin guilty, and he was convicted. Griffin and his attorneys appealed to the California

Supreme Court, who agreed with the lower court decision (Griffin v. California, 1965, p.610).

The United States Supreme Court granted the writ of certiorari and reversed the decision

of the State Supreme Court on the grounds that the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits statements

made by the prosecution concerning the defendants’ silence and the instructions from the judge

that silence is evidence of guilt. The comment made to the jury pool violated Griffin’s Fifth

Amendment rights (Griffin v. California, 1965, p.614). This case gave more rights to defendants

by placing more restrictions on prosecutors and judges.

Doyle v. Ohio

Doyle v. Ohio (1976) also addresses the issue of the right to remain silent. In this case

two males, Doyle and Wood, made arrangements with a narcotics confidential informant to buy

10 pounds of marijuana. The police collected money to proceed with the purchase. The police

watched nearby where the transaction occurred, and afterwards the police approached Doyle and

Wood and arrested them. When they were arrested and taken into custody, they were advised of

their Miranda warnings. They decided not to invoke their rights, and remained silent (Doyle v.

Ohio, 1976, p.612).

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At their separate trials, the attorneys of both Doyle and Wood during cross examination

pointed out that the police could not have visually been able to see the transaction occur,

claiming that the confidential informant was framing their defendants. The prosecutor, during

cross examination, asked why the defendants, during arrest, did not mention that the entire

situation was a “set up,” hoping to show impeachment. The defense objected to the questioning,

which was overruled, so the defendants’ silence was admissible at both trials. The juries found

them both guilty (Doyle v. Ohio, 1976, p.613).

Doyle and Wood appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court on the grounds of the trial courts’

error in allowing the prosecution to cross examine the defendants about their post-arrest silence.

The court concluded that the prosecution may bring up the issue of why these accusations were

not mentioned during arrest, and agreed with the lower court’s decision. The court reviewed

whether the impeachment of the defendants’ post-arrest silence violated their rights, and the

court found no such violation (Doyle v. Ohio, 1976, p.616).

The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari and reviewed the case. The judges

reversed the lower court convictions and remanded to the state courts. The Court found that the

defendants’ post-arrest silence mentioned by the prosecutor violated their due process rights, and

the convictions for selling drugs were reversed. The prosecutor should not have impeached the

exculpatory evidence through cross examination of the suspects, mentioning that they remained

silent once informed of their Miranda rights. Their silence upon arrest could have simply been

that they exercised their rights and decided not to make any statements, whether incriminating or

not. The defendants were exercising their Miranda rights by not speaking, a choice which should

not have been used against them (Doyle v. Ohio, 1976, p.617).

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In Griffin v. California (1965), the United States Supreme Court made the criminal

justice system more fair by determining that the right to remain silent is not an indication of

guilt. Also, the court condemned inputting certain thoughts in the jury’s minds during

deliberation, and how such behavior reflects bias. The Doyle v. Ohio (1976) case contributed to

establishing safeguards for suspects who choose to use their Miranda right of remaining silent; in

particular, they do not have to worry that their decision can later be used against them at trial.

Remaining silent is a right and therefore may not later be held against a defendant at trial.

In the case of Doyle v. Ohio (1976), it was considered whether a defendants’ silence can

be used to show guilt. The Supreme Court found the use of silence for impeachment purposes to

be unfair simply because the defendants were exercising their Fifth Amendment right by not

speaking after being given the Miranda warnings. In the case of Doyle v. Ohio (1976), it was also

considered whether the defendants’ silence can be used to show guilt. The Supreme Court also

found this to be unfair simply because the defendants were just exercising their Fifth

Amendment right by not speaking after the Miranda warnings were administered.

Exceptions to the Miranda Warnings

Exceptions to the Miranda warnings are needed because of exigent circumstances.

Utilitarianism is defined as what applies to the greater good of most people. Certain emergencies

or situations such as public safety will outweigh the need for the Miranda warnings. Exceptions

can also be made if the setting is not an interrogation, such as certain conversations by an inmate

in a jail cell with an undercover agent. Exceptions to the Miranda rule should be based on the

totality of the circumstances.

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Rhode Island v. Innis – Defining “Interrogation”

In the case of Rhode Island v. Innis (1980), on January 12, 1975, a taxi cab driver was

murdered with a shotgun blast to the head. Five days later, the police received a phone call from

another taxi driver who claimed he was robbed by a man who had a shotgun. The taxi cab driver

went to the police station, and while there he noticed a picture of the man who robbed him.

Police sent out a “BOLO” (Be On The Lookout) on the man who was identified as having

committed the crimes. An officer recognized the suspect near a school for the handicapped and

arrested him and advised him of his Miranda warnings. The suspect said he understood his

rights and requested counsel (Rhode Island v. Innis, 1980, p.294).

Other police officers arrived and placed the suspect in the back of a police car and started

to transport him with three other officers in the car. On the way to the police station, two of the

officers talked among themselves about how tragic it would be if a handicapped child found the

shotgun and inappropriately used it on other children. Defendant Innis overheard the

conversation, whereupon he spoke up and said he would tell them the location of the weapon.

The officers stopped the car and went to the location the suspect indicated. When police arrived,

they re-stated the Miranda warnings and the suspect said he understood but wanted to point out

where the gun was so no children would be harmed. The gun was located exactly where he

specified (Rhode Island v. Innis, 1980, p.295-296).

On March 20, 1975, Defendant Innis was indicted on charges of kidnapping, robbery, and

murder. The defendant tried to suppress the evidence of the shotgun obtained from the

statements he made to police about the gun’s location. The judge allowed the evidence at trial,

and Innis was found guilty on all three charges. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Rhode Island

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agreed with the lower court’s decision regarding the fact that the suspect was not under

interrogation or even questioned when he decided to tell the police the location of the shot gun

(Rhode Island v. Innis, 1980, p.297).

The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari and reviewed the case. The Court

decided to vacate the decision of the lower courts. According to the Court, the police never

interrogated Innis but simply spoke among themselves about what could happen, and the

defendant on his own free will indicated the location of the weapon used to commit the murder

(Rhode Island v. Innis, 1980, p.298).

Though Innis had invoked his Miranda right to counsel, there was no violation by police

since they did not interrogate him in obtaining the incriminating statements (Rhode Island v.

Innis, 1980, p.298). In addition, the Court vacated and remanded the lower courts’ decisions

because it established a new definition for interrogation under Miranda: explicit questioning and

these questions by police reasonably likely to elicit on incriminating response from the suspect

(Rhode Island v. Innis).

New York v. Quarles

Exceptions to Miranda warnings are required in certain cases, such as those involving

public safety. If police do not have time to read someone his or her rights because the public is

in serious danger, an exception may be made. In New York v. Quarles (1984), two police officers

on patrol encountered a female rape victim. She told the police that a man had just raped her,

and she gave a detailed description of the suspect. She also told the police officers that he had

just entered a store, and he was armed.

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Entering the store, the police found a man, later identified as Quarles, who matched the

woman’s description. He attempted to elude the officers, who caught him and noticed he had a

holster but no gun. The officer handcuffed the suspect and did not read him his Miranda

warnings. One of the officers demanded to know the location of the weapon. The suspect

indicated the location with a nod of his head, while saying it was over there. The police

recovered the gun. The police then advised the suspect of his Miranda warnings, which he

waived. He then proceeded to speak with the officers (New York v. Quarles, 1984, p.652-653).

At trial the judge excluded Quarles’ unMirandized statement about the location of the

gun based on the “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine,” and all evidence obtained by the

statement, including the gun, was considered “tainted.” The Court of Appeals concluded that the

suspect was under arrest at the time, and the Miranda warnings should have been stated prior to

questioning. The reasoning from the prosecution was exigent circumstances concerning public

safety. At issue is whether the officer was justified in the decision not to Mirandize the suspect

(New York v. Quarles, 1984, p.653).

The United States Supreme Court disagreed with the lower court. Based on the issue of

“public safety,” an exception to the Miranda warnings is necessary, so the evidence of the

statement and the gun is admissible in trial. The police after making the arrest noticed the gun

was missing; public safety was therefore at risk because someone may have found the weapon

and caused further harm (New York v. Quarles, 1984, p.656).

Illinois v. Perkins

In the case of Illinois v. Perkins (1990), an inmate claimed that Perkins talked about a

murder he committed in his past, so the police planted an undercover agent close to Perkins.

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Perkins was arrested in Illinois, where an agent posed as another inmate in the same jail. The

plan was to build rapport with the suspect while assisting Perkins in a jail breakout. During the

discussion between the agent and Perkins regarding the plan to escape, Perkins mentioned that

his girlfriend could sneak a gun into the jail. This conversation led to the agent asking Perkins if

he had ever killed anyone. Perkins then confessed to the murder to the undercover agent. Since

the agent was acting as an inmate, he does not need to state the Miranda warnings to the suspect

because of the circumstances. Perkins believed he was talking to another inmate and not an

agent of the law (Illinois v. Perkins, 1990, p.295).

At trial, the defense attempted to exclude the statements made to the undercover officer,

claiming that Perkins should have been Mirandized. The judge agreed and excluded the

confession to the murder, but the state appealed. The Appellate Court of Illinois agreed with the

trial court because under Miranda v. Arizona (1966), all undercover conversations with

incarcerated suspects who are likely to make incriminating statements are excluded. The United

States Supreme Court granted certiorari and reversed the trial court’s decision (Illinois v.

Perkins, 1990, p.296-297).

According to the Supreme Court, the Miranda case states that the warnings need to be

stated prior to custodial interrogations; this stipulation does not necessarily include the confines

of a jail cell. A conversation between an undercover agent and an inmate or suspect does not

constitute an interrogation. The environment of a police agent questioning an inmate in a jail

cell environment is not coercive (Illinois v. Perkins, 1990, p.297). Therefore, Perkins

unMirandized statement to the undercover agent about the murder is admissible in court (Illinois

v. Perkins).

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Pennsylvania v. Muniz

Suspects can make incriminating statements when intoxicated and still have their

statements excluded at trial if their Miranda warnings were not given. On November 30, 1986,

Inocencio Muniz’s car was parked on the side of the road and an officer stopped to investigate.

Muniz, who said he had stopped to urinate. As Muniz spoke, the officer smelled alcohol on his

breath; his eyes were bloodshot, and his face was flushed. The officer initiated a field sobriety

test to evaluate Muniz’s condition. The officer conducted the typical test of horizontal gaze,

walk and turn, and one leg stand, all of which the suspect appeared to fail. Muniz claimed that

he failed the sobriety test because he had been drinking. The officer made the decision to arrest

Muniz and transported him to jail (Pennsylvania v. Muniz, 1990, p.586).

At this point, Muniz had not been read his Miranda warnings. During typical booking

questions, such as name, address, and age, Muniz was having some difficulty. The officer then

asked Muniz how old he was on his sixth birthday. Muniz responded with slurred speech, and

then he was asked what the date was when he turned six years old. His response was, “No, I

don’t know.” The officer made him repeat the sobriety test, which yielded the same results as

previously, and Muniz was then asked to take a breathalyzer. The Implied Consent Law was read

to him, and Muniz refused to take the test. He was then Mirandized. He understood his rights

and signed the proper paperwork to waive the rights, and during interrogation he admitted to

driving while intoxicated (Pennsylvania v. Muniz, 1990, p.586-587).

At trial, audio and video of these events were admitted into evidence, including the

sobriety tests. Muniz was found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol. He filed a

motion for a new trial on the grounds that any statement or action made prior to the Miranda

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warnings should have been excluded as “Fruits of the Poisonous Tree.” The motion was denied

since it was found that the statements and actions did not constitute self-incrimination

(Pennsylvania v. Muniz, 1990, p.588).

Muniz appealed his case to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, and it was reversed. The

court found that the sobriety test evidence was not considered testimonial evidence but physical

evidence. The Miranda warnings are for testimonial evidence, not physical; however, question

about his sixth birthday was considered testimonial, and at the time he was not read his Miranda

warnings. The United States Supreme Court agreed that the statement about his birthday should

have been excluded, and then remanded the case for a new trial. The Court concluded that the

birthday statements made prior to the Miranda warnings should be excluded as evidence because

of the testimonial nature of the sixth birthday question; however, the physical evidence from the

sobriety test and the other “routine” responses to the “booking” questions (i.e., age, name, height,

etc.) was admissible (Pennsylvania v. Muniz, 1990, p.588).


Rhode Island v. Innis (1980) established parameters for interrogations by police. The

environment influences whether or not a suspect is being interrogated. The test is whether or not

there is explicit questioning by police or statements that they should know are reasonably likely

to elicit on incriminating response from the suspect. The New York v. Quarles (1984) case help

establish an exception for public safety. Quarles’ case made the criminal justice system more

fair by establishing public safety as a higher priority and allowing the evidence to be used in

trial. The Illinois v. Perkins (1990) case established the rules for a undercover interrogation.

The Miranda warnings in this situation do not apply.

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The jail and prison environment may not be the same as an interrogation room where the

suspect knows he or she is dealing with law enforcement. The inmate did not feel intimidated by

another inmate who was conspiring with him but who happened to be an “undercover” agent. In

contrast, while in an interrogation room a suspect might feel intimidated, and therefore police

need to address the suspects’ rights. In the former situation, the inmate does not know he is

engaging in conversation with law enforcement. Since the officer is “undercover,” questioning is

not coercive and therefore not custodial. This case made the criminal justice system more fair for

law enforcement regarding new ways to obtain confessions. In addition, when a suspect believes

he is talking with another inmate, his statements are not viewed as responses to interrogation.

The Pennsylvania v. Muniz (1990) case helped establish the point at which interrogation

soliciting testimonial evidence starts and when the defendant should be read his Miranda

warnings. It also provides guidance about how certain evidence, such as physical evidence, may

not be excluded even if Miranda warnings are not provided. This, in turn, makes the criminal

justice system more fair and police interrogation rules more clear (Pennsylvania v. Muniz, 1990,


Fruit of the Poisonous Tree and Its exceptions where police fail to provide the

Miranda Warnings

Suspects in custody have made incriminating statements in response to police

interrogation prior to being read the Miranda warnings; therefore, their statements have been

excluded at trial. In addition to statements being excluded, all other evidence from those

statements will be tainted. The statements (tree) that lead to other evidence (fruit) will all be

excluded, unless an exception such as inevitable discovery is provided.

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Harris v. New York

On January 4, 1966, defendant Harris sold an undercover officer heroin. Later Harris

was indicted by a grand jury and was taken into police custody. He was questioned by police but

was not told about his Miranda right to counsel during interrogation. Harris, during the

interrogation, made incriminating statements, under his own free will and with no coercion or

involuntariness (Harris v. New York, 1971, p.223).

At trial, the prosecution did not admit the incriminating statements to establish Harris’

guilt but to impeach his statements. At trial, the defendant took the stand under his Fifth

Amendment right and answered the defense questions. His answers were inconsistent to what he

had admitted during the earlier police interrogation. The prosecution used Harris’ previous

statements to impeach his statements at trial. The judge told the jury that such statements could

be used only towards the defendant’s credibility and not as evidence of guilt. The jury

deliberated and came back with a guilty verdict (Harris v. New York, 1971, p.223).

Harris appealed his case to the New York Supreme Court, who affirmed the lower court’s

decision. The case went to the United States Supreme Court, which granted certiorari. The

United States Supreme Court reviewed the case in light of the Miranda decision and agreed with

the lower courts. The Miranda decision was concerned with incriminating statements to show

guilt prior to defendants being read their rights, such as the right to counsel (Harris v. New York,

1971, p.224).

This case relates to evidence of the defendants’ inconsistent statements made to the

police during custodial interrogation being used to impeach the defendants’ credibility at trial. In

criminal cases, the defendant is privileged to testify in his defense or to decline to testify; by

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testifying he may subject himself to cross-examination during which previous statements may be

revealed. However, that privilege cannot be interpreted to include the right to commit perjury

under oath. The Supreme Court agreed with the lower courts regarding statements in response to

custodial interrogation made prior to defendants being read their Miranda rights: these statements

may be used at trial to prove inconsistency and are therefore admissible for impeachment

purposes (Harris v. New York, 1971, p.226).

Brewer v. Williams

In the case of Brewer v. Williams (1977), in the month of December, a girl was at her

brother’s wrestling match and went to the restroom. When she did not return, her family became

worried. At the same time a man named Robert Williams had escaped from a mental hospital. A

witness saw Williams place items in his car and observed what appeared to be a girl’s legs

hanging out. Based on this information the police obtained a warrant for Williams’ arrest for

abduction (Brewer v. Williams, 1977, p.391).

Williams’ lawyer advised him to turn himself in to the police, which he did. The police

read Williams his Miranda warnings, and he contacted his lawyer, who told the police at this

time not to question Williams until the lawyer was present. Williams was arraigned in front of

the judge, who placed him in jail. The police the next day transported Williams back home where

his lawyer was waiting.

During the drive the police questioned him regarding the girl’s disappearance, but in prior

conversation the officer talked about religion. The law enforcement officer attempted to use

religion to elicit a confession by telling Williams that the victim deserved a proper Christian

burial. Furthermore, they told him that heavy snow would soon cover the body, making the

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search very difficult. Williams eventually told the police where they could find the body and led

them to it (Brewer v. Williams, 1977, p.391-394).

At trial Williams was indicted for murder in the first degree. Prior to trial his lawyer

moved to exclude the statements made during the transport to town, when he revealed the

location of the body. The judge disagreed and allowed the evidence to be admissible. Williams

was found guilty by the jury, which he appealed on the grounds that his statements were in

violation of his Sixth Amendment right because his counsel was not present at this time of the

questioning in the patrol car. The appeal was denied, and the Appeals Court for the Eighth

Circuit agreed with the lower, trial court (Brewer v. Williams, 1977, p.394-395).

The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari and reviewed the case, determining

that the “Christian burial speech” did constitute an interrogation, or “deliberate elicitation.”

Since Williams was in custody, and had also obtained counsel, police should not have questioned

him without his attorney present. His Sixth Amendment right to counsel was violated because he

was in custody and had been arraigned at the time. The arraignment was a critical stage for the

Sixth Amendment right to an attorney (i.e., to attach) (Brewer v. Williams, 1977, p.400).

In addition, a companion case of Nix v. Williams (1984) established that despite a police

illegality (e.g., a Sixth Amendment right to attorney violation), if police would have inevitably

discovered certain evidence through lawful means, that evidence is admissible. In Nix, the

Supreme Court held that the evidence consisting of the dead girl’s body (i.e., its location) was

admissible despite such a police illegality because the girl’s body would have inevitably been

discovered through lawful means (i.e., a private search party would have uncovered the body)

(Nix v. Williams, 1984).

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Oregon v. Elstad

The case of Oregon v. Elstad (1985) was decided in December of 1981. A home was

burglarized, and a witness identified the suspect as Michael Elstad, a neighbor to the victim.

Police obtained a warrant for his arrest and went to his residence (Oregon v. Elstad, 1985,

p.301). Upon arrival they spoke to the suspect in his living room, asking him about the burglary,

whereupon Elstad mentioned he was present during the burglary. The police then decided to

escort him to the patrol car after effecting the arrest. After arriving at the police station, Elstad

was advised of his Miranda warnings. Elstad stated he understood his rights and was willing to

speak to the police. During the interrogation, Elstad made incriminating statements about his

involvement in the burglary, and the police charged him with first degree burglary (Oregon v.

Elstad, 1985, p.302).

At trial, the defendant asked to waive a jury trial. The defense attorney initially

attempted to suppress the evidence of the questioning that was conducted in the defendant’s

living room, which opened the door to the remainder of the incriminating information. The

defense argued that under the “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine,” the un-Mirandized living

room statements (the tree) were tainted; therefore, all subsequent statements (the fruit) taken at

the station house were also tainted. The judge ruled that the statements from the living room

should be excluded but not the statements made at the police station (Oregon v. Elstad, 1985,


The judge found Elstad guilty of first degree burglary, and he was convicted. Elstad

appealed his case to the Oregon Court of Appeals, who reversed the conviction due to the

exclusion to all statements under Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine (FOPT). The United

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States Supreme Court granted certiorari and reversed the Oregon Court of Appeals, remanding

the case to the lower court. The court found that even though the defendant made incriminating

statements during custodial interrogation prior to the Miranda warnings being provided by

police, the statements made by the defendant at the station house after the Miranda warnings

were told to him were admissible. If a suspect who is provided the warnings on a second

occasion decides to waive his rights and speak to the police and this waiver is voluntary and not

coerced, the statements remain admissible. As long as the statements obtained in violation to

Miranda from the first custodial police interrogation are not coerced, the statements obtained

from the second custodial police interrogation in compliance with Miranda are admissible

(Oregon v. Elstad, 1985, p.304-305).

Dickerson v. United States

One of the most frequently discussed cases since the Miranda v. Arizona (1966) is

Dickerson v. United States (2000). In this case the defendant was indicted for bank robbery,

conspiracy to commit bank robbery, and possession of a firearm to commit violence. While

Dickerson was talking to the FBI, he was not Mirandized, and he made incriminating statements.

He told the FBI he was the getaway driver in many robberies. The FBI testified that Dickerson

was told his Miranda warnings prior to the incriminating statements, but Dickerson said he was

not Mirandized until after he made the incriminating statements (Dickerson v. United States,

2000, p. 433).

Prior to trial, Dickerson attempted to suppress the statements he made to the FBI on the

basis that he was not given his Miranda warnings before interrogation. At the time, the courts

followed the federal law of 18 U.S.C. Section 3501, which allowed statements made by a suspect

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to be admissible if they were provided voluntarily. The District Court agreed with Dickerson on

the ground that the statements should be suppressed, but the United States Court of Appeals

disagreed and allowed the statements in court. The Court of Appeals decision was based on the

fact that Congress may by statute have the final “say” on the issue, and had allowed

incriminating statements obtained by police in violation of Miranda so long as they were

voluntary (Dickerson v. United States, 2000, p.432-433).

The United States Supreme Court decided that Congress may not overrule the Miranda v.

Arizona (1966) decision because it was mandated by the Constitution. This case established that

the warnings police must provide under Miranda v. Arizona (1966) are a constitutional right and

not just based on case law. Congress cannot overrule a Supreme Court decision that sets a

precedent based on a constitutional right (Dickerson v. United States, 2000, p.432-433). Thus,

since Dickerson was not read his Miranda warnings prior to the custodial interrogation by police,

his incriminating statements remain inadmissible at trial (Dickerson v. United States, 2000).

United States v. Patane

In United States v. Patane (2001), Samuel Patane was arrested for harassment towards

his ex-girlfriend but was released on bond. Patane’s ex-girlfriend obtained a temporary

restraining order (TRO) against him, which he violated. The police looked into Patane’s history

and found out he was an ex-felon, and he in fact was in possession of a firearm. Police arrested

the suspect for violating his TRO and the officer began reciting the Miranda warnings but was

not able to recite it in its entirety because the suspect said he knew his rights. The police

interrogated the suspect and asked him about his possession of firearms knowing he was a

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convicted felon, whereupon he admitted to having a firearm in his bedroom and gave police

consent to retrieve it (United States v. Patane, 2004, p.635-636).

At trial, Patane’s defense attorney attempted to suppress the evidence related to the

firearm based on the fact that police lacked probable cause to originally arrest him with, which

the federal District Court agreed. The District Court declined to review the fact that the gun

(fruit) was found by a statement (tree) that was not completely Mirandized. The Court of

Appeals reversed the District Court decision regarding probable cause for arrest but agreed that

the statements should be suppressed as “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree.” The decision was reviewed

based on examination of the “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine” (United States v. Patane,

2004, p. 636-637).

The Court of Appeals viewed the Miranda warnings provided by police to be incomplete

under the Dickerson case because Miranda has become part of Constitutional law. The United

States Supreme Court reversed the decision and remanded for further proceedings. In theory, the

“Fruit of the Poisonous Doctrine” should be applied because the self-incrimination clause did

violate the Miranda Rule. But the United States Supreme Court held that the Fruit of the

Poisonous Tree Doctrine in the Miranda context does not apply to subsequently obtained

physical evidence; thus, the gun is admissible (United States v. Patane, 2004, p. 636-637).

Missouri v. Seibert

Crimes have been committed to hide other crimes; for example, in Missouri v. Seibert

(2004), Seibert’s son, who was suffering from cerebral palsy, died in his sleep. Seibert, out of

fear of being arrested for possible neglect because of the bedsores all over her son’s body,

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decided to burn the residence based on her fear of being caught. She felt the need to conceal the

crime of neglect and burn any evidence.

The fire was set by another of her sons and her friend. In addition, Seibert plotted to leave

another boy suffering from mental problems at the home, and he died from the fire. Five days

after the fire, she was arrested and was not read her Miranda warnings. At the police

department, after thirty minutes of interrogation, she confessed to setting the fire. Police allowed

the suspect to take a short break of approximately twenty minutes, and when she returned, the

police finally read the Miranda warnings to her. Police also had her sign a waiver and

questioned her again. Seibert repeated her confession to the police (Missouri v. Seibert, 2004,


At trial, the defendant moved to suppress both her statements prior to and following the

Miranda warnings. The court decided to suppress the first confession but not the second because

for the second confession the Miranda warnings had properly been stated. The jury found the

defendant guilty of second degree murder (first victim) and first degree murder (second victim)

(Missouri v. Seibert, 2004, p. 607).

Seibert appealed her case to the Missouri Court of Appeals, who reversed the lower

court’s decision. The Court relied upon the Oregon v. Elstad (1985) case, finding that the

suspect was not warned of her Miranda rights initially; this police error made statements

subsequently obtained inadmissible. The second interrogation continued immediately following

the first, showing a continuous process. The second statement was clearly based on the invalid

first statement and also should have been suppressed (Missouri v. Seibert, 2004, p.608-609).

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The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari and reviewed the case. The Court

found that the first set of questions were intended to overlook the Miranda warnings for their true

intention (to explain to suspects their rights if they choose to speak). The subsequent

interrogation placed the first confession at risk of coercion and rendered it inadmissible. In

addition, in reviewing the facts, Supreme Court concluded that the warnings given did serve their

purpose, and the statements were inadmissible (Missouri v. Seibert, 2004, p.610).

The Supreme Court agreed with the Missouri Supreme Court to suppress both statements

based on not using the Miranda warnings for their true intentions of warning the suspect of her

rights before she decided to confess. Mentioning them later and having the suspect repeat what

she said previously is not admissible. If the first confession is in violation of Miranda that was

obtained by the police coercively (i.e., due process violation) subsequent Mirandaized confession

is inadmissible (Missouri v. Seibert, 2004, p.610).


The Harris v. New York (1971) case provided the limits of Miranda violations used in

favor of the defense. The defense cannot prevent a statement obtained in violation of Miranda

from being admitted by the Prosecution for impeachment purposes. Previous decisions involving

Miranda warnings have benefited the defendants but this case benefited the prosecution and the

police, providing a fairer outcome in the criminal justice system. Brewer v. Williams (1977)

protected the defendant by reassuring him of his Sixth Amendment right and showing the police

that once counsel is established no questioning should be conducted without counsel present.

This case made the legal system more fair for the defendants by not allowing police to violate

their right to counsel.

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Oregon v. Elstad (1985) helped establish when statements may be excluded based on the

“Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine” and when it does not apply. The statements made before

the Miranda warnings are provided are to be excluded, but police, provided that the original

statements are voluntary given, may then mention the warnings to ensure that any subsequent

statements made are allowed into evidence. The Dickerson case made the criminal justice

system more fair by establishing that Congress cannot overturn constitutional law.

The case of United States v. Patane (2004) established that physical evidence may be

used that is obtained from a confession even if the Miranda warnings were not stated, but the

statement itself is not admissible. Statements that lead to the evidence must not be coerced but

rather voluntary. The criminal justice system is made more fair for police and suspects based on

this case because statements gathered prior to Miranda warnings cannot be used against the

defendant at trial but the physical evidence obtained from the confession can. The Seibert case

helped establish when the Miranda warnings need to be stated and the purpose as to why they

should be stated at the start of an interrogation. This case helps keep law enforcement from

misleading suspects and using the warnings to their advantage.

All the previous cases mentioned have a significant impact on the criminal justice system

because they changed the law to provide for a more fair justice system. Miranda v. Arizona

(1966) opened numerous doors to future cases. Even today the Miranda warnings are used and if

police fail to mention them, except in certain situations, statements will be excluded at trial.

John Reid Literature Review

Due to the Wickersham Commission Report, police began implementing “psychological

techniques to obtain confessions” (Wice, 1996, p.45). In their book “Criminal Investigation and

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Confessions,” Reid and Inbau discuss the “Reid technique” as the most widely used interrogation

tactic in police agencies. Reid and Inbau’s strategies are based on the idea that a majority of

people have a conscience and know when they have done wrong. Our bodies, verbally and non-

verbally, react when a lie is told.

John Reid graduated from law school and opened his own practice, which started slowly

so he decided to expand his knowledge by working for the Chicago Police Department. Fred

Inbau was a law professor at Northwestern Law School. Inbau also worked for the Chicago

Police Department, where he met Reid. The two men collaborated on techniques to scientifically

learn the truth about suspects’ crimes. The use of forensics had already began, but the two men’s

main focus was detecting lies. Using polygraphs to detect if a suspect was lying started the

technique. The technique focused on making the suspect feel open and relaxed enough to tell the

truth. If the suspect decided to lie, the two men sought a way to make the lie obvious (Reid,

Inbau, Buckley, Jayne, 2004, preface 1).

The two men over the years have developed certain questions to ask suspects and tested

their techniques until they became almost perfect. The non-verbal clues guilty suspects display

are quite different from those of innocent suspects. The polygraph would actually confirm Reid

and Inbau’s understandings. They also studied behavioral analysis of the individuals they

questioned. Over time and after several interrogations, the two men developed their technique,

now properly known as the “Reid Technique.” Frightening a suspect is not an effective way to

obtain a confession, but demonstrating sympathy towards the suspect has proven to be effective

(Reid, Inbau, Buckley, Jayne, 2004, preface 1-2).

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Over time polygraph use has declined and has become inadmissible in court. What once

was a helpful tool for Reid and Inbau is now just a tool to mention. However, the polygraph

helped them establish the technique on particular questions that led to confessions. Certain

responses to questions do not need a polygraph to prove they are lies; the response alone reveals

the demeanor of dishonesty (Reid, Inbau, Buckley, Jayne, 2004, preface 2-3).

The term “interview” and “interrogation” have been used interchangeably, but they

actually are two different entities. “An interview is non-accusatory;” most interrogations start

with an interview, which helps the examiner build rapport with the interviewee. The primary

purpose of an interview is to gather information. Also, police may interview witnesses first to

obtain more information and narrow the suspect pool. If the interviewer believes he is

interviewing the suspect, the session can quickly turn into an interrogation (Reid, Inbau,

Buckley, Jayne, 2004, p. 3-6).

The term “interrogation” differs from interview because it is accusatory. In addition, the

interrogation involves active persuasion, basically using psychological influences to convince the

suspect into openly talk about the crime. The purpose of interrogations is to learn the truth about

the who, what, where, when, and, most importantly, the why of a crime. During an interview, the

individual should feel free to leave, where as an interrogation he is not free to leave (i.e., there is

“custody”). During questioning for an interview, there is no reason to read the Miranda warnings

so long as the suspect is not in custody, but in an interrogation they must be read since custody is

generally obtained (Reid, Inbau, Buckley, Jayne, 2004, p.3-6).

Interviews are conducted more often than interrogations because witnesses do not need to

be interrogated, only the prime suspects. During an interview the interviewee should takes notes

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but not in an interrogation. If an interrogator is taking notes during an interrogation, the suspect

will notice and wonder why notes are being taken at certain points and not others (Reid, Inbau,

Buckley, Jayne, 2004, p.5-6).

Using a psychological approach, an interrogator asks questions, and guilty suspects’

responses may incriminate them, but the suspect may think his guilt is hidden. Another

psychological approach involves providing justification for the crime to elicit a confession. Still

another psychological approach involves minimizing the seriousness of the offense. The Innis

case used a similar technique during interrogation. The seriousness of a crime can appear less

offensive when compared to a more serious crime; for example, comparing a misdemeanor with

a felony (Reid, Inbau, Buckley, Jayne, 2004).

The Reid technique involves nine steps to an interrogation based on the psychological

approach. Overall, Reid and Inbau’s experiences have improved techniques and made them

successful. Reid and Inbau have critiqued all of the nine steps over time for improvement. In

many interrogations, not all nine steps should be utilized, and no particular order is required.

Every interrogation is different, and the interrogator needs to be able to change his or her tactic

based on the suspect’s responses. The art of interrogation is challenging, and the suspect’s

responses must be analyzed to know what question to ask next (Reid, Inbau, Buckley, Jayne,

2004, p.189).

• The purpose of the first step, “Positive Confrontation,” is to directly accuse the suspect of

committing the crime in order to establish behavioral norms. The suspect’s response and

non-verbal gestures can aid in detecting deception.

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• The second step, “Theme Development,” minimizes the seriousness of the offense and

establishes rationalizations of why the crime might have occurred or place the blame on

someone else.

• The third step, “Handling Denials,” occurs because most suspects deny any involvement,

so the interrogator needs to steer away from the suspect’s denials and gear them towards

the truth. The investigator needs to be confident when revealing knowledge of the

suspect’s guilt and moving him or her away from denial (Reid, Inbau, Buckley, Jayne,

2004, p.188).

• The fourth step, “Overcoming Objections,” addresses reasons the crime occurred, in other

words establishing, excuses. For example, the question states, “You were planning to

repay the money you took,” or “The items you took would not cause that much of a loss.”

• In the fifth step, “Retaining the Suspect’s Attention,” the suspect starts to be quiet and to

understand in a sense that he has been caught; at this point the suspect is close to

confession. For example, the suspect is usually sitting facing down, and his face

expresses guilt.

• In the sixth step, “Handling the Suspect’s Passive Mood,” the interrogator sees the

suspect’s vulnerability and realizes it is time for him or her to confess guilt. For example,

the question states, “It is okay now just tell me what happened, make me understand”

(Reid, Inbau, Buckley, Jayne, 2004, p.189).

• In the seventh step, “Presenting an Alternative Question,” a question is asked to the

suspect for which the only answer can be incriminating. For example, the question asks,

“How many times did you stab her?”

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• In the eighth step, “Detailing the Offense,” the interrogator describes the offense using

known details to make the suspect understand that it is clear what happened at the crime

scene and to open the session for the confession.

• In the ninth step, “Elements of Oral and Written Statements,” the written confession, in

the suspect’s own words, is collected (Reid, Inbau, Buckley, Jayne, 2004, p.189).

According to Reid and Associates (2013, p.48) the common questions that are asked have

a hidden answer to make someone look innocent or guilty; a person, in order to tell the truth,

feels the need to have an excuse, which allows him or her to save self respect. An excuse can be

that life circumstances pushed the individual into making the decision; the interrogator may

compare the wrong to a more severe wrong, or he may state that the individual made a fast,

regrettable decision. The following are common questions asked during a interrogation:

• “How do you think the investigation will come out on you?” An innocent response would

be, “It will clear me or show I’m telling the truth.” A guilty response would be, “I hope it

clears me, or I have no idea” (Reid & Associates, 2013, p. 38 & 89).

• “What do you think should happen to the person who committed the crime?” An innocent

response would be, “The person should be arrested or prosecuted.” A guilty person

response would be, “It’s not really up to me to decide” (Reid & Associates, 2013, p. 89).

• “Who do you think would have had the best opportunity to do this?” A innocent

individual response would be, “To name others, including themselves. A guilty response

would be, “It could have been anyone, or maybe it was a mistake, and there was no crime

committed” (Reid & Associates, 2013, p. 36).

• “What do you think should happen to the person who did this?” An innocent response

would be, “They go to jail, prosecute them, or lose their job.” A guilty response would

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be, “I don’t know, that’s not up to me, or depends on why” (Reid & Associates, 2013, p.


• “Do you think the person who did this would deserve a second chance under any

circumstances? An innocent suspect would reply, “No way, absolutely not, or, they will

just do it again.” A guilty reply would be, “That’s not up to me, or “It depends on why”

(Reid & Associates, 2013, p. 38).

All of the common questions can be applied for any type of crime. Suspects’ responses to

questions make them feel as if they are not being identified as a suspect; they are trying to

respond as if they were innocent. Reid and Inbau created questions to detect guilty suspects’

responses and established guilty responses as clearly distinct from innocent responses. Not all

responses are obvious; therefore, several questions are asked.

During an interrogation, the interrogator wants to build rapport with the suspect and treat

him or her equally and with respect. This is so the suspect is more willing to talk. The

investigator should always call the suspect by name and thank him or her for coming in and

speaking with the police, including taking time out of their day. This treatment of respect makes

the interviewee feel important and not necessarily feel as a suspect. The questioning was merely

a formality that needed to be done. Many suspects think they can remain undetected in an

interview by just saying no and adhering to a lie, but the Reid techniques help police avoid

deception and establish guilt or innocence.

Interviewing and interrogating suspects is a common duty of police officers, and many

crimes have been resolved due to confessions, but all confessions must be free of force or

coercion to be admissible in court. Prior to speaking and questioning a suspect, police must

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provide Miranda warnings to the suspects so they know their rights and so any statements made

can be admissible in court and not excluded because of technical issues. John E. Reid and

Associates have developed techniques to ensure voluntary confessions that are admissible in

court. Their techniques are frequently applied in the law enforcement field for successful and

admissible interrogations (Reid & Associates, n.d.).

Impact of interrogations in light of the law: Literature Review

“Shining the Bright Light on Police Interrogations in America”

Countless criticisms of the “Reid Technique” regarding interrogation tactics have been

published. Various scholars believe that the “Reid Technique” is unreliable and that police use

psychological coercion to obtain confessions that might actually be false. Critics who have been

controversial towards Reid believe the technique to be unreliable, non-trustworthy, and deceptive

in its approach to interrogations.

Godsey (2009, p.711), mentions police are successful in obtaining confessions by

convincing the suspect that he or she has no choice but to confess and that police normally rely

on lies, including deception, to obtain confessions. Reid and associates completely disagree with

Godsey’s opinion, claiming that suspects have a choice, and only guilty suspects eventually feel

the need to tell the truth by confessing to the crime.

Police allegedly force a false confession from an individual because they want to have as

many as resolved cases as possible. The Reid approach clears innocent suspects during the initial

interview and narrows in on the possible guilty suspects for interrogations. Once the investigator

has established possible guilty suspects during the interview, their answers typically point in one

direction during an interrogation: either guilty or innocent (Godsey, 2009, p.711).

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Godsey (2009, p.711) believes that the police automatically assume a suspect’s guilt and

manipulate statements to meet their investigation needs to solve a case. The “Reid technique”

does not implement any of these tactics. However, it is possible that while police are utilizing the

“Reid Technique” interrogators can also implement their own techniques, which may lead to

false confessions and which deviate from Reid. Their technique may include a coercive

technique or an unethical approach.

Godsey’s (2009) article mentions that police rely on nonverbal and verbal indicators of

deception taught by Reid. While Reid does propose analyzing the suspects’ body language

during an interrogation, body language alone does not lead to a final conclusion; it is one of

many indicators. Reid has noticed while conducting thousands of interviews that certain types of

body language reveals deception, but body language does not constitute a confession. Body

language only gives the person conducting the interview indications of deception, such as

dishonesty, and it leads to better follow-up questions (Godsey, 2009, p 711).

“Police Science in the Interrogation Room: Seventy Years of Pseudo-

Psychological Interrogation Methods to Obtain Inadmissible


By Gallini (2010), has a similar view to Godsey (2009) by positing that interrogations by

police can lead to false confessions. Gallini (2010), in his article places the blame on the Reid

technique for false confessions, claiming that Reid’s ideas come from the 1940’s and are

outdated. The polygraph examinations during that time period were commonly used for

interrogations, but Gallini (2010) claims that polygraphs are not applicable to this century.

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Technically, the Reid technique does not highly rely on polygraphs as they did in the

past, and his associates have improved their methods over the years as more effective techniques

have been discovered. In fact, instead of administering a polygraph examination, police will

simply ask the suspect, “How do you feel you would come out on a polygraph test?” Reid and

associates have experienced that guilty people try to deflect the question saying, “I’m not sure

how reliable those things are,” while innocent people tend to say “I have no doubt I’ll pass.”

This is a common question used during interrogation based on the Reid technique (Gallini, 2010,

p. 580).

Gallini (2010) in his article disapproves of minimizing the seriousness of the offense and

blaming the victim to obtain confessions, which is a common Reid technique. Reid’s purpose is

to try to build rapport with the suspect by empathizing with him or her so he or she will speak

with the interrogator comfortably and honestly. This type of technique is also similar to the Innis

case. In the conclusion of the article, Gallini (2010) states the time has come to eliminate the

Reid method’s unsupported “presumed guilt” approach in favor of a newer, more collaborative

approach to interrogation methods. Removing this method or its teachings, however, would

hinder the law enforcement community, who widely depend on these methods to obtain

confessions (Gallini, 2010, p.580). The law dictates what is allowed in interrogations because

suspects do have their rights (i.e., Miranda and due process rights) and their confessions need to

be voluntary.


Undoubtedly, false confessions can occur, possibly because the individual felt guilty

because of other reasons. While false confessions occur, they are rare compared to truthful

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confessions. Many guilty suspects that confess rescind only after being advised by counsel in

order to win their case by excluding the statement from trial (Godsey, 2009 & Gallini, 2010).

Godsey (2009) and Gallini (2010), are both critical of the Reid methods, believing they

lead to false confessions. Interrogations have become a very controversial topic regarding

voluntary and involuntary confessions. The law under due process and Miranda requires

voluntary confessions (Miranda v. Arizona, 1966). Reid methods have proven successful

throughout many law enforcement interrogations and have been admissible in court. Reid is still

improving the technique and firmly believes in his methods. The Miranda warning prior to

interrogation relates the suspect’s rights and clarifies understandings of those rights, so if he or

she chooses to confess during interrogation, it was of his or her own free will. The authors in

these articles are very anti-police regarding interrogations and confessions based on their

research, with some valid points.

“Handcuffing the Cops”

How much have the Miranda warnings affected the confession rate for law enforcement?

Since 1966 police must state the Miranda warnings prior to conducting an interrogation with

suspects. Now suspects are given the option to remain silent or waive their rights and talk to the

police. Confessions are a significant part of evidence at trial. With suspects educated about their

rights, has the confession rate declined? (Cassell & Fowles, 1998, p.1064).

Statistics in the 1960’s and 1990’s were not collected on confession rates at police

departments, so the clearance rate is the best way to analyze the data. After 1966, the UCR

(Uniform Crime Reports) was used to evaluate the crime rate, which is measured by number of

crimes solved (Cassell & Fowles, 1998, p.1059). According to Cassell and Fowles (1998,

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p.1060-1061) two years post Miranda v. Arizona (1966) the confession rate dropped 16%, or at a

rate of approximately one out of six. In criminal cases a confession is needed one out of four

times (25%) to convict a defendant (Cassell & Fowles, 1998, p. 1061). Since 1966, however, the

confession rate has declined to an even greater degree (Cassell & Fowles, 1998). While 16%

may not seem significant, it nonetheless reveals an important fact: The Miranda warnings did

have an impact. The overall conclusion of the confession rate has declined, but not at a

noticeable level (Cassell & Fowles, 1998, p. 1063).

Cassell and Fowles (1998) conducted a survey of police departments to determine why

clearance rates have dropped. The survey concludes that the Supreme Court decisions, especially

Miranda, were the greatest contributor to the decline in clearance rates. Other factors such as,

crime rate increase, socioeconomic issues, and various factors may also have contributed to the

decline (Cassell & Fowles, 1998, p. 1109).


The Miranda v. Arizona (1966) decision might have hindered the cops on obtaining

confessions. Is hindering the police from solving crimes fair? Solving crimes for victims is an

ultimate goal in policing; and innocent suspects have nothing to confess, while guilty suspects

have crimes to hide. The Miranda warnings were created to prevent the police from using

coercion towards suspects to obtain confessions, but they can also hinder victims from receiving

justice. If the defendant can show that his or her statements were not voluntary, coerced, or

improperly obtained, the confession is excluded at trial.

Utilitarianism promotes the greatest good for most, but the Miranda warnings promote

the greater good for the guilty suspects. However, they also protect innocent suspects from police

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abusing their power and manipulating an individual into a false confession. While Miranda

warnings have made the system more fair for suspects, they have also prevented cases to be

resolved (Cassell & Fowles, 1998).

“The Impact of Miranda on Police Effectuality”

Due to Miranda v. Arizona (1966), confession rates have been studied to show how much

of an impact the Miranda decision has had on police interrogations. According to Witt (1974, p.

325) in 1964 to 1967 (pre and post Miranda) the arrest rate was almost the same; there was not a

significant drop. Witt (1974) conducted his research on confessions rates for the crimes of

murder, rape, robbery, and burglary. The research was conducted at the Seaside Police

Department in California.

In Witt’s (1974, p. 325) research he found that the confession rate declined at

approximately 2% (69% to 67%) from 1964 to 1967 (pre and post Miranda), although the

detectives felt like the decline was much greater than it actually was. Also Witt (1974, p. 325)

found oral admissions where a suspect confessed during interrogation declined 2% (43% to

41%). The percent of suspects that refused to speak to police pre-Miranda was 8% and post-

Miranda was 7% (Witt, 1974, p. 325). These results show no significant impact of Miranda when

it comes to suspects’ willingness to speak to the police. However, the conviction rate decreased

from 92% pre-Miranda to 83% post-Miranda (Witt, 1974, p. 325). Lastly, the clearance rate

went from 19% pre-Miranda to 16% post-Miranda (Witt, 1974, p. 325).

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“Custodial Police Interrogation in our Nation’s Capital: The Attempt to

Implement Miranda”

Another study on confession rates was conducted in Washington D.C. at the New Haven

Police Department during 1965 and 1966 (pre-Miranda and post-Miranda) (Alexander, Medalie,

& Zeitz, 1968, p. 138). The study found that the suspect’s confession rate pre-Miranda was 43%

and declined to 40% post-Miranda, causing a 3% decrease after the Miranda v. Arizona (1966)

decision (Alexander et al., 1968, p. 139).


The two years post-Miranda had the largest impact, but over time that percent became

smaller (Witt, 1974 & Alexander et al., 1968). According to Witt (1974, p. 332), in his research

on the Miranda warnings, the effects on interrogations have been a “slight” impact overall on the

confession rate (2%). Other factors may contribute to the confession rate, such as a detective’s

workload. While police do clear crimes from interrogations, the police now because of the

Miranda decision may question fewer people because of the fear of having the confession thrown

out at trial on a technicality (Witt, 1974, p. 331). With this idea, police have become more strict

on their approach to interrogations to safeguard the suspects rights’ while still obtaining

confessions on a more “as-needed” basis to be admissible at trial.


For this content analysis, sources of data collection include a literature review on

Supreme Court cases, the “Reid Technique” for interrogations, and law journal articles. The

Literature Review provides the foundation for the answers to the research questions. Based on

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the significance of the impact the Miranda v. Arizona (1966) on the criminal justice system, the

following research questions were examined:

(1) Why did the Miranda warnings start?

(2) Have the Miranda warnings made the justice system more fair? If so, for whom?

(3) Is the “Reid Technique” valid in light of the law?

The first set of data was collected from Supreme Court cases that were affected by the

Miranda decision of 1966. The pre-Miranda Supreme Court cases range from 1936-1964 with a

total of three cases. The post-Miranda Supreme Court cases range from 1966 – 2012 with a total

of seventeen cases. The post-Miranda cases were obtained using a citator in Lexis Nexis, which

is a standard legal research tool to find all of the interpretive cases regarding a particular case

(here, Miranda) (Lexis Nexis, n.d.).The jurisdiction selected was United States Supreme Court

and all years / dates were included since 1966 (Sloan, 2012, p. 116). These cases were then

grouped into specific interpretive categories based on similarities. The categories are: (1) Fifth

Amendment Cases Post Miranda: Effect of Invocation of Rights & Waiver, (2) Remaining

Silent, (3) Exceptions to the Miranda Warnings, and (4) Fruit of the Poisonous Tree and Its

Exceptions where police fail to provide the Miranda Warnings.

This important case law has contributed towards how the police addresses how they

may interrogate suspects. The Supreme Court cases were retrieved from Lexis Nexis (Lexis

Nexis, n.d.). Also included are the significant cases that led to the Miranda warnings. Prior

Supreme Court cases were steppingstones to aid in the decision of Miranda v. Arizona (1966).

The pre-Miranda Supreme Court cases range from 1936-1966. These cases were selected

because of the impact on how the criminal justice system was improving to make the legal

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system more fair. For guidance here, the following source was consulted: (Slobogin &

Whitebread, 2007).

Miranda v. Arizona (1966) provides the foundation of this research, along with the

significance it has made on the criminal justice system. The warnings are used constantly and are

a major part of our justice system, particularly concerning arrests and interrogations. The pre-

Miranda cases that were chosen (i.e., Brown v. Mississippi (1936), Gideon v. Wainwright (1963),

and Escobedo v. Illinois (1964)) because these cases had such a significant impact on

interrogations by police, and were a leeway to the Miranda case. The pre-Miranda cases have

provided additional rights for suspects to make their criminal proceeding more fair and with

Miranda continuing those efforts for the justice system.

The post Supreme Court cases are noteworthy outcomes reflecting back to the Miranda

decision. The final outcomes of multiple Supreme Court cases have been impacted by Miranda.

A review of many United States Supreme Court cases was conducted to find case law that dealt

with interrogations that related to the Reid Technique and cases that had the most significant

impact on the Miranda warnings. With the final decision in Miranda there were still gray areas

remaining in the law (i.e., time limits between the warnings, exceptions, and etc) (Lexis Nexis,


The second set of data for the Literature Review regarding the “Reid Technique” was

collected from John Reid and Fred Inbau’s book, Criminal Interrogation and Confessions and

their training manual, The Reid Technique of Interviewing and Interrogation Manual. These data

sources were collected because the technique has become widely implemented by law

enforcement to obtain confessions and because they establish how to properly conduct

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interrogations. In fact, Reid is the most commonly used tool in law enforcement on conducting

interrogations. The Reid Technique provides law enforcement tactics on ethically conducting

interrogations and having the confessions admissible in court (Reid, Inbau, Buckley, & Jayne,


The third set of data from the Literature Review was collected from refereed law journals

on criticism of the “Reid Technique.” The “natural language” search term parameters in Lexis

Nexis included the phrase “psychological approach to interrogations.” This specific term search

was utilized with a date range of 1998-2010. The date ranges are large parameters because the

articles that occurred right after the Miranda decision were very valuable, and also the more

recent articles can provide a history from the additional cases impact. All “law journals” was

selected. The data collected from the journals that were used opposed the psychological approach

that Reid and his associates use. The significance in these journals is the idea that using the

psychological approach may lead to false confessions (Lexis Nexis, n.d. & Sloan, 2012, p. 27).

The impact the Miranda case has had on the confession rate is reflected in the last

articles in the study. These three articles identified were refereed law journal articles retrieved

from a general “natural language” search in Lexis Nexis. The “natural language” search term

parameters in Lexis Nexis include the phrase “confession rate,” “pre-Miranda,” and “post-

Miranda.” This specific term search was utilized with a date range of 1968-1998. All “law

journals” was selected. All these articles also analyze the Reid technique and includes the views

of its effectiveness. While there is no direct research on the confession rate and conviction rates,

the clearance rates were studied to determine how much the Miranda warnings impacted police

confessions during interrogations (Lexis Nexis, n.d.). Confessions are a principal way through

which police obtain clearances (e.g., arrests).

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The answer to the research questions are explained in this chapter. The case law and

journal articles as well as Reid’s publications are the sources used to answer the research


(1) Why did the Miranda warnings start?

The Miranda warnings were established to deter the unethical behavior that law

enforcement was utilizing to obtain confessions. For example, in Brown v. Mississippi (1936)

the suspects were beaten until they confessed to a crime they did not execute. These behaviors

violated a person’s due process rights. This decision was a stepping-stone to the Miranda

warnings by establishing more fairness in the way police obtain confessions. Gideon v.

Wainwright (1963) and Escobedo v. Illinois (1964) were also all pre-Miranda cases that provided

“stepping-stones” to the main decision by establishing additional measures of fairness for

suspects and defendants in the criminal justice system. The period from 1930’s through the

1960’s was a significant time for suspects increasingly earning their rights and receiving aid at

trial. All of these cases helped improve the criminal justice system, making it more fair for


The Mississippi v. Brown (1936) case was clearly focused on racial prejudices from law

enforcement towards the suspects. In the South during the 1930’s, racial conflict was common,

and law enforcement frequently based decisions on race. This was a starting period for the Civil

Rights Movement, when the South was not a safe place for people of color. Brown v. Mississippi

(1936) determined that law enforcement must not use physical means or coercion to obtain

confessions, especially false confessions. The Courts would no longer tolerate this type of

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behavior from law enforcement.7 The case was significant based on the impact it would have on

Miranda, in particular because of the violations the police used during interrogation.

The case of Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) established that the Sixth Amendment right to

counsel in felony cases was a right defendants also had in state criminal courts. This case

impacted the Miranda decision by improving the rights an individual has to a fair trial. Through

the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause, states and not just the federal government, had to

provide counsel to indigent defendants.8

Escobedo v. Illinois (1964) established guidelines for suspects to have counsel present

during questioning to safeguard their rights. This right to counsel was also established in the

Miranda warnings, that if a suspect desired an attorney, and could not afford one, that one would

be provided, and all questioning would come to a halt until counsel is present. This significant

case occurred immediately before the landmark decision in Miranda. Escobedo provided the

right to counsel during pre-indictment police interrogations, if the suspect was deemed to be the

“focus of the investigation” (Escobedo v. Illinois, 1964).

(2) Have the Miranda warnings made the justice system more fair? If so, for whom?

The Miranda v. Arizona (1966) decision made the criminal justice system more fair for

individuals under suspicion of law enforcement; it safeguarded them by having their rights

stated. The individual can now decide to exercise his or her right of remaining silent and request

a lawyer or waive his or her rights by speaking to the police. The decision also has made the

legal process more fair for law enforcement because, by stating the Miranda warnings, they are

7 297 U.S. Reports 278 (1936)
8 372 U.S. Reports 335 (1963)

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covered by law, and any statements made by individuals can be held against them in a court of


Many post-Miranda v. Arizona (1966) Supreme Court decisions have eroded the decision

over time. These decisions include such legal procedures as (1) establishing exceptions to

Miranda, including the fourteen day rule, (2) what constitutes an interrogation, (3) ways of

remaining silent, and (4) “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine.” If not for the Miranda case, the

outcome of many Supreme Court decisions could have been very different. The fourteen day rule

established the time limits on when law enforcement may re-interrogate a suspect who

previously requested an attorney during custodial interrogation, while still upholding the

suspects’ rights. The fourteen days gives a suspect time to speak to an attorney if they so wish

(i.e., Maryland v. Shatzer, 2010). The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree (“FOPT”) Doctrine prevents

law enforcement from illegally obtaing a confession because if that is the route taken all

evidence will be tainted and excluded from trial, provided no exceptions to FOPT exists (for

example, Brewer v. Williams and Nix v. Williams addressing the “inevitable discovery”


If not for the Miranda decision, police could more easily abuse their power. Police may

at times make deliberate or non-deliberate mistakes obtaining confessions, which can lead to

confessions being excluded. So the criminal justice system is not perfect, but since the Miranda

case, suspects and law enforcement can anticipate more fair outcomes. Law enforcement is

forced to take the legal channels if they want their evidence to be admissible in court.

Victims, on the other hand, who cannot have their cases resolved because the confession

was excluded are quite a different matter. Victims have been impacted in the worst way because

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they may not receive justice if a confession was obtained in an invalid manner by police and

therefore excluded. Mistakes that are made in those cases are permanent and cannot be retried if

the defendant is ultimately acquitted as a result of an excluded confession because of double


The scholarly articles established that the confession rate for the most part has stayed the

same after the Miranda case, with the main reason being that law enforcement has applied a

more ethical approach to interrogations (Cassell & Fowles, 1998, Witt, 1974, & Alexander et al.,

1968). The more ethical approach is making sure a suspect is told their rights and no unlawful

conduct is projected to them. Law enforcement no longer uses physical tactics to obtain

confessions (which possibly lead to false confessions) but more of a reasonable tactic, such as

the Reid Technique, or psychological approach.

(3) Is the “Reid Technique” valid in light of the law?

The “Reid Technique” has impacted police interrogations in light of the law by creating

ethical pathways to lead to voluntary and non-coerced confessions (i.e., legal confessions). The

Miranda warnings help protect the technique because the suspect has been informed of his or her

rights prior to interrogation based on the technique.

Several journals that have critiqued the “Reid Technique” claim that it has led to false

confessions. The psychological aspect of the technique is criticized regarding manipulations by

police to obtain confessions. In addition, in terms of the confession rate, empirical research

indicates that after the Miranda case, confessions obtained by law enforcement were first

impacted in terms of a declining clearance rate, but after two years, the rate began to return back

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to where it was prior to Miranda. In sum, the confession rate has not significantly changed

following Miranda (Cassell & Fowles, 1998, Witt, 1974, & Alexander et al., 1968).

Over the years as laws have changed, the Reid technique has also changed to remain

current with the law. Reid and associates have to alter their strategies to make sure they align

with the law so law enforcement can utilize these techniques to have successful interrogations

and that the confessions remain admissible in court. If police exceed the boundaries of the

technique and use a different strategy to obtain a confession the admissibility of the confession is

questionable. If the strategy is not upheld by the courts, the confession will have a higher chance

of being excluded at trial.

In the Innis case it helped establish what an interrogation is in light of the law and also

includes the idea of minimizing the seriousness of the offense to aid in the suspect replying with

an incriminating response that leads to a confession. The Innis case defined interrogation as

explicit questioning and questioning that is reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response

from the suspect, which was established by the United States Supreme Court. The Innis case

included the idea that when police minimize the seriousness of the offense, this approach

constitutes interrogation. Police employing the Reid technique, which also uses this approach,

will be well-advised to continue the technique’s practice of providing suspects with their

Miranda warnings prior to being interrogated under the technique. In this particular regard, this

practice indicates the technique’s validity under the law.


The criminal justice system has become more fair over time, but it still has room to

improve. One recent Supreme Court plurality decision, Salinas v. Texas (2012), has caused a

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shocking turn in events regarding police interviews. Individuals who are being interviewed by

the police (not in custody) have to specifically plead the Fifth Amendment if they do not want to

answer a question because if they do not, their silence may be presented at trial. In the Salinas

case, the interview did not constitute a custodial interrogation by police, but the questioning that

occurred could be perceived as an interrogation. Salinas technically was free to leave, if he so

choose to (i.e., since he had voluntarily accompanied police to the station-house).

Therefore, the Salinas decision and its implementation of the definition of a successful

pleading / invocation of the right to silence is an area that needs improvement in the law. The

decision seems to promote a “double standard” because the questioning appeared to resemble

more of a custodial interrogation than a casual police interview, in which case his Miranda rights

need to have been stated. If the Miranda warnings would have been stated his silence to

questioning could not have been used against him in a court of law. See Doyle v. Ohio (1993).

Salinas reflects the importance of needing to improve the law in the area of interviewing

and the Fifth Amendment statement requirement under Miranda so that a suspect’s silence will

not be used against him or her in court. The main purpose of Miranda is to inform a suspect of

their rights and give them an opportunity to waive their rights. This case interview of the type

used in Salinas should be constituted as a custodial interrogation requiring the Miranda warnings,

causing it to appear as a double standard by having to plead the Fifth Amendment right to silence

as a suspect during an interview with law enforcement.

Salinas v. Texas

On December 18, 1992, a double homicide was discovered by police in Houston, Texas.

The police became suspicious of Genovevo Salinas, and he voluntarily accompanied the police

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to the station for questioning. After an hour of questioning, Salinas had answered every question

until he was asked whether the shotgun shells found at a crime scene would match a shotgun

Salinas owned. In response to this specific question, Salinas remained silent. It was noticed that

Salinas, in a nonverbal action, appeared deceptive. The police conducted a ballistics test against

Salinas’ gun and the bullet casings from the crime scene, and they matched. Further

investigation by police found a witness claiming that Salinas admitted to murdering the two

individuals (Salinas v. Texas, 2010, p. 4).9

Approximately 15 years later, the police finally located Salinas and arrested him. The

first trial concluded as a mistrial, and at the second trial the state allowed Salinas’ silence to be

used as evidence against him regarding the question about whether the bullet casings at the crime

scene would match any of his shot guns. The defense tried to have the evidence suppressed on

grounds of his Fifth Amendment rights, regardless of not being in custody, but they failed.

Salinas was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison (Salinas v. Texas, 2010, p. 4).

The Fourteenth Court of Appeals in Texas looked over the case to decide whether in the

non-custodial interview by police and prior to Miranda warnings, the defendant should have been

allowed to declare his Fifth Amendment rights. Prior cases have been split in similar decisions,

so the Court concurred with the side wherein a suspect’s non-custodial silence can be used

against him or her in court. This decision left many in shock because when we fail to mention

our Fifth Amendment right during non-custodial questioning by police, our silence may be used

against us.

 The findings of the lower courts mentioned in this paper, including those courts’ holdings, judgments and/ or
rationales, were retrieved from the United States Supreme Court cases. Therefore, citations to this material appear
in the format used for United States Supreme Court cases.

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Using the John E. Reid technique in this instance an innocent person easily would have

replied, “No,” and a guilty person’s non-verbal motions could indicate deception as they did here

(Salinas v. Texas, 2010, p. 5). The Reid Technique provides certain questions to ask suspects,

while answers the suspect believes will make them look innocent actually make them appear

guilty (i.e., as analyzed under the Reid technique). When Salinas did not answer the specific

question about the shell casings at all and has answered on every question prior, this shows an

obvious sign of guilt, in addition to his non-verbal clues.

The Salinas case, while not a custodial interrogation case, is nonetheless an important

case surrounding interrogations because it has made the point that when a suspect chooses to

remain silent, that right in certain context can be held against him. The findings suggest that

during non-custodial police questioning, that the suspect needs to plead the Fifth instead of

demonstrating it by remaining silent. Instead of choosing not to incriminate himself or herself by

remaining silent, one’s silence may be a sign of guilt, or at least that is the perception of the

courts, the prosecution and law enforcement in this context (Salinas v. Texas, 2010).

The laws and rights of citizens in police interviews have changed from the

implementation of the Miranda warnings to the Salinas v. Texas (2010) case. In general, law

enforcement agents feel that the laws safeguard too much, while citizens feel they should have

more rights to protect them from the police. The Salinas case, determined that only when non-

custodial suspects state, “I plead the Fifth,” the silence should not be used against them at trial.

According to this author, if at any point individuals questioned in police pre-custody, remain

silent, which is their right, they should not have the silence used against them at trial. The

outcome in this case seems to, in light of Miranda and what constitutes an interrogation, to be a

double standard.

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However, it is true that in pre-custodial questioning, individuals should feel less

somewhat less threatened from police tactics than during custodial questioning, but they still

should have similar rights, such as remaining silent. In pre-custodial questioning, having to

plead the Fifth Amendment sounds unreasonable because most individuals are not aware that

silence may be used against them. Since this is not a situation in which they are read the Miranda

warnings, they should somehow be informed of the need to invoke the Fifth Amendment, or their

silence should not be used against them at all in trial.

Improvement in the Law

Apparently a “double standard” exists that one has a right to remain silent to protect his

or her rights, but if an individual chooses to do so in pre-custodial questioning, it can also be held

against him or her in court. The Miranda rights were established to educate suspects of their

rights. A majority of individuals would not have the legal knowledge to mention the Fifth

Amendment during a pre-custodial interrogation by police, so exclusion for their silence at trial

is suggested. Not allowing the suspect’s silence to be mentioned at trial seems fair. This addition

to the law would benefit individual rights. The case of Griffin v. California (1965), established

that a suspect’s silence during custodial interrogation (which is a right provided by Miranda)

shall not be used for the prosecution to presume guilt. See also Doyle v. Ohio (1993).

The criminal justice system has been improving over time as case law implements new or

alters current laws. The Miranda warnings are a vital part of policing, so training officers on the

proper execution in situations where needed is important. Police need to know when to state the

Miranda warnings or when it is not appropriate.

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A majority, if not all, of police departments have in their standard operating procedure

(policy) regarding when to utilize the Miranda warning when speaking to suspects. The policy

dictates how the department is to implement the warnings. Police academies train new officers

on the Miranda v. Arizona (1966) decision and the importance of properly administering the

warnings (Georgia POST, 2013). The Miranda decision is one of the most widely known

judicial cases because of the impact it has made on the criminal justice system.

Improvements to the law are constantly administered as new laws are passed or decided

by judges. The aim of the criminal justice system is to be as fair as possible while society

changes and norms change so that laws remain relevant to the needs of our society.


The Miranda warnings were created to protect individuals’ rights and prevent the police

from violating those rights. The police need to state the Miranda warnings to individuals in

custody who may give incriminating statements in response to police interrogation, to assure that

those statements will be admissible in court. Individual rights include remaining silent during

police questioning and having an attorney present without expense during questioning if

requested. These rights were established under the Fifth Amendment as interpreted by the

Supreme Court in Miranda. Individuals may voluntarily and knowingly waive these rights and

speak to the police but only after they are told these rights. The Reid Technique insists that the

Miranda warnings be stated prior to interrogation to ensure admissibility of suspect statements,

and strengthen the confession rate.

Prior to the Miranda v. Arizona (1966) decision police were unethically obtaining

confessions, and suspects did not know their rights were being violated nor were they aware of

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how to protect themselves from self-incrimination. This case has become significant in the

criminal justice system because the Miranda warnings are used constantly when questioning

custodial suspects. Testimonial evidence can help win a prosecutor’s case, or, if the confession

was obtained in violation of the individual’s Fifth Amendment right, the confession will be

excluded. This circumstance may cause the prosecution to lose their case by having the

confession excluded. Having the Miranda warnings administered to suspects is vital to uphold

statements as evidence of suspect guilt in the court room.

Police interrogation tactics have drastically changed over time, giving suspects more

protection and fewer options for police. The landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona (1966)

established procedures for handling suspects prior to and during custodial interrogation. The

Miranda decision states that any statements made by suspects after being told these rights, if

voluntarily and knowingly waived, can be held against the suspect.

While the Miranda warnings may have aided suspects by protecting them (e.g., making

the criminal justice system more fair for them), it has also possibly hindered police from

resolving cases. Cases that remain unresolved mainly impact the victims of the crime. The

police who obtain confessions not in accordance with the Miranda warnings may also prevent a

victim from receiving justice. The police should always conduct interrogations correctly so both

the victims and suspects receive fair treatment. If the police read the Miranda warnings to the

suspect and the suspect still chooses to make incriminating statements voluntarily, intelligently,

and knowingly, the confession will be admissible.

The very rights established in the Miranda warnings are designed to protect individuals.

The more recent case of Salinas v. Texas (2012) reflects how police questioning currently is

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being conducted. A suspect’s silence during pre-custodial questioning can also be held against

him or her in court. Pre-custodial interviews by police is an area of law that needs improvement

because the suspect’s silence during a pre-custodial interview may currently be admissible in

court. This is seemingly in contradiction to the “spirit” of the Miranda law.

In pre-custodial settings, police should inform the suspects of how their silence can be

used against them, and how to invoke their right to silence. Having them plead the Fifth

Amendment to make their silence inadmissible at trial is unfair in the justice system. It may also

benefit police not to have to deal with a suspect’s ignorance of the law, and questioning of the

confessions’ admissibility.

The case of Salinas v. Texas (2012) should not have been viewed as pre-custodial

interview by police once certain questions began, such as Salinas’ involvement in the shooting.

The interview of Salinas appeared to transition into an interrogation under the definition used in

the Innis case, and therefore his Miranda rights should have been stated by police. Also, Salinas

was arguably in custody since he was accompanied by police to the location of an interview

room at a police station-house. If the Miranda warnings had been provided, then Salinas would

have had the opportunity to remain silent, request a lawyer, or waive his rights.

Many post Miranda cases brought about changes in the legal system regarding how

police conduct interrogations and interviews. For example, the case of Edwards v. Arizona

(1981), stressed how the police need to cease questioning when a suspect implements their right

to an attorney and not to force a suspect to speak with them. These cases have shown instances

when police should have ended questioning of the suspect but instead decided to continue,

coercing the suspect into disclosing incriminating information. In Pennsylvania v. Muniz (1990),

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the Supreme Court highlighted the importance of how incriminating statements or confessions

can be excluded if suspects are not Mirandized prior to these statements, such as an incriminating

statement by a drunk suspect to a question concerning the date of his sixth birthday. These cases

have helped improve the criminal justice system for future cases by enforcing safeguards, such

as the Miranda warnings. Many cases in the criminal justice system deal with the Miranda

warnings, which is why the warnings are important to research.

Other cases following Miranda have established exceptions or “loopholes” to its basic

premise. The case of Maryland v. Shatzer (2010), established a 14 day rule for a “break” in

custody for a law enforcement officer to re-interrogate a suspect who initially requested an

attorney and for any waiver at a subsequent interrogation to be deemed voluntary. The Illinois v.

Perkins (1990) case established the rules for a undercover interrogation, providing that the

Miranda warnings in this situation do not apply because the prison environment is not an

interrogation room but a conversation between inmates. The New York v. Quarles (1984) case

established an exception to Miranda for public safety reasons based on the public’s safety as a

higher priority and allowing the evidence to be used in trial. The various exceptions to Miranda

created by subsequent case law may indicate that law enforcement has increasingly been gaining

more control and power over the interrogation of criminal suspects.

The “Reid Technique” has become an essential resource for law enforcement to

implement during interrogations to retrieve voluntary confessions in light of Miranda. The

importance of the technique has been proven numerous times when it was used to obtain

confessions through legal channels. The technique has proven successful by having confessions

being admissible and not excluded at trial (Reid, Inbau, Buckley, Jayne, 2004, p.3-6).

 P a g e


Many scholarly articles (Godsey & Gallini) mention disagreement with the “Reid

Technique,” and believing it has led to false confessions. The scholars believe the psychological

approach causes false confessions. The scholars believe that the technique leads to false

confessions because the type of questioning psychologically causes the individual to confess to a

crime they did not commit. Reid claims the psychological approach does not elicit false

confessions; instead, the person’s conscience leads to the confession of the truth (Reid, Inbau,

Buckley, Jayne, 2004). Such psychological coercion to obtain a confession, if it exists, would be

viewed as a violation of Miranda (e.g., an involuntary “wavier”). It must also be a due process


Reid and associates have been in disagreement with scholars on their technique, but

currently police are utilizing the “Reid Technique” to obtain confessions. Police, while

implementing the technique during interrogation and obtaining confessions, are eliciting

statements still admissible in court. The technique appears up to date with the law,

demonstrating how confessions from police have been admissible. Once an interview by police

starts to become accusatory, basically a custodial interrogation, the police need to halt and read

the Miranda warnings to protect any further statement made by the suspect. The Reid technique

accounts for this fact by providing suspects with the Miranda warnings prior to the application of

the technique. This is appropriate because the technique may involve interview tactics such as

minimizing the seriousness of the offense, which the Supreme Court in Innis stated constituted


False confessions do occur, but they are rare. Police who are trained on the Reid

Technique implement the tactics during interrogations. Police may at some point deviate from

the Reid Technique and alter their approach, which could lead to false confessions.

 P a g e


However, these false confessions are not always based on police error. The people who

falsely confess should be analyzed. Why would an innocent person confess to a crime he or she

did not commit? Perhaps he or she feels guilty about something else, or he or she are protecting

the real perpetrator to the crime. Also, the police might manipulate the suspect during

interrogation. But not all false confessions lead back to the “Reid Technique.”

The confession rate was impacted for the first two years after the Miranda decision. After

those two years the confession rate only decreased between 2-3%, which is not a significant

difference. While suspects are being treated more fair and told their rights, law enforcement is

still able to obtain an admissible confessions during interrogations. The Miranda case has created

a more fair approach to interrogations for suspects and police to still benefit with a confession by

ethical means (Alexander et al., 1968, Cassell and Fowles, 1998, & Witt, 1974).

For future research in this area, alternative approaches to interrogations other than the

Reid Technique and the possible link to false confessions could be examined. An alternative

method to the Reid Technique was created in England called Planning, Engage, Account,

Closure, and Evaluate (“PEACE”). This technique is not psychological based, but more of a

journalistic approach by gathering information. The focus on this approach is to revisit the same

question that appeared to be a lie to see if the suspect changes his or her story; basically, the

suspect will not be able to recite the lie verbatim. The questions are open-ended and re-asked a

different way to confirm the same answer in regards to knowledge of the crime (Starr, 2013,


Laws provide society with social norms; these norms imply what is right and what is

wrong. When the answer is unclear, the courts are tasked with evaluating the circumstances and

 P a g e


making a decision for the greater good of humanity. Laws have been improving as society

progresses and norms change. While laws change, so will police and their approaches to

interrogations in order to make the criminal justice system more effective. The criminal justice

system’s goal is to achieve justice, which is the greater good for most (i.e., the belief in

utilitarianism). Justice must be pursed to provide fairness for all.


Alexander, P., Medalie, R.J., & Zeitz, L. (1968). Custodial police interrogations in our nation’s

capital: The attempt to implement Miranda. Michigan Law Review, 66, 1347-1422.

Argersinger v. Hamlin. 407 U.S. 95 (1972). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

Bill Of Rights Institute. (2010). Fifth amendment: right against self incrimination. Arlington,

VA. Retrieved from http://billofrightsinstitute.org/resources/educator-resources


Bill Of Rights Institute. (2010). Eighth amendment: right against cruel and unusual punishment.

Arlington, VA. Retrieved from http://billofrightsinstitute.org/resources/educator-


Brewer v. Williams. 430 U.S. 387 (1977). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

Brown v. Mississippi. 297 U.S. 278 (1936). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

Cassell, P.G., & Fowles, R. (1998). Handcuffing the cops? A thirty year perspective on

Miranda’s harmful effects on law enforcement. Stanford Law Review, 50, 1055-1145.

Colorado v. Connelly. 479 U.S. 157 (1986). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

Escobedo v. Illinois. 378 U.S. 478 (1964). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

Dickerson v. United States. 530 U.S. 428 (2000). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic


Doyle v. Ohio. 426 U.S. 610 (1976). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

Edwards v. Arizona. 451 U.S. 477 (1981). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

Gallini, B.R. (2010). Police “science” in the interrogation room: seventy years of pseudo-

psychological interrogation methods to obtain inadmissible confessions. Hastings

College of the Law, 529-580.

Georgia POST. (2013). Peace officer standards and training council, retrieved from:

Gideon v. Wainwright. 372 U.S. 335 (1963). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

Godsey, M.A. (2009). Shining the bright light on police interrogation in america. Ohio State

Journal of Criminal Law, 711-735.

Griffin v. California. 380 U.S. 609 (1965). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

Hall. (1997). Records of the wickersham commission on law observance and enforcement. Part

1: Records of the committee on official lawlessness. Research Collections in American

Legal History, 1-16

Harris v. New York. 401 U.S. 222 (1971). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

Illinois v. Perkins. 496 U.S. 292 (1990). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

Maryland v. Shatzer. 559 U.S. 98 (2010). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

Michigan v. Mosley. 423 U.S. 96 (1975). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

Mincey v. Arizona. 437 U.S. 385 (1978). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

Miranda v. Arizona. 384 U.S. 436 (1966). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

MirandaWarning.org (n.d.). Miranda warnings. Retrieved from


Missouri v. Seibert. 542 U.S. 600 (2004). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

New York v. Quarles. 467 U.S. 649 (1984). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

Nix v. Williams. 467 U.S. 431 (1984). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

Oregon v. Elstad. 470 U.S. 298 (1985). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

Pennsylvania v. Muniz. 496 U.S. 582 (1990). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

Reid & Associates. (2013). The reid technique of interviewing and interrogation manual. John E.

Reid and Associates, 1-147.

Reid, J. & Associates (n.d.). The Reid Technique. Retrieved from


Reid, J.E., Inbau, F.E., Buckley, J.P., & Jayne, B.C. (2004). Criminal interrogation and

confessions. John E. Reid and Associates Inc, 5, 1-469.

Rhode Island v. Innis. 446 U.S. 291(1980). Retrieved from LexisNexis Academic database.

Sloan, A.E. (2012). Basic legal research: Tools and strategies. Wolters Kluwer Law & Business

in New York, 1-333.

Slobogin, C., & Whitebread, C. (2007). Criminal procedure: An analysis of cases and concepts.

Foundation Press, 5, 1-1231.

Starr, D. (2013, December 6). Beyond good cop / bad cop: A look at real life interrogations.

Fresh Air Podcast. Podcast retrieved from: http://podca stdownload.npr.org/anon

.nprpodcasts/ podcas t/13/249155893/npr_249155893.mp3?_kip_ipx=1514839569-


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  • Kennesaw State University
  • DigitalCommons@Kennesaw State University
    • 12-2014
  • Miranda v. Arizona (1966): Its Impact on Interrogations
    • Melissa Beechy
      • Recommended Citation
  • 2.PAPER

10/28/21, 6:56 PM Torres v. Madrid: What Constitutes “Seizure” under the 4th Amendment? — Columbia Undergraduate Law Review

https://www.culawreview.org/journal/torres-v-madrid-what-constitutes-seizure-under-the-4th-amendment 1/8

Torres v. Madrid: What Constitutes “Seizure”

under the 4th Amendment?


On July 15, 2014, two New Mexico State Police officers

approached Mrs. Roxanne Torres as she hastily entered her

car in her parking garage. [1] As Mrs. Torres was under the

influence of methamphetamines, she claims that she believed

the police officers to be carjackers and attempted to quickly

speed away. Arguing that she endangered them in the process

of her escape, the officers fired 13 bullets at Mrs. Torres and

hit her twice before she was ultimately able to escape. [2]

From this, a pertinent question befalls the highest court in

the nation: does Mrs. Torres’ encounter constitute a seizure ?

Mrs. Torres filed a civil rights claim in federal court, claiming

that the police officers had used excessive force and had

violated her Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful

seizures. [3] The district court ruled—and the 10th Circuit

Court of Appeals affirmed—that the Fourth Amendment’s

protection against unlawful seizure was not applicable

because, as Torres was ultimately able to escape and wasn’t

apprehended by law enforcement until later, she wasn’t

technically “seized.” [4] This ruling might seem sound at first

glance, but it contradicts existing Supreme Court

jurisprudence on the matter. Moreover, this ruling sets an

extremely dangerous precedent of denying victims of police

brutality proper legal recourse based solely on whether or

not they were successfully able to flee.

There are two important cases from which federal

jurisprudence derives the definition and applicability of

seizures under the Fourth Amendment: United States v.

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Mendenhall (1980) and California v. Hodari D. (1991). In

both cases, the Supreme Court ruled that the scope of

“seizures”, as they apply to the Fourth Amendment, extend

beyond that of merely an official arrest. For instance, in

United States v. Mendenhall, the Supreme Court found that a

seizure occurs when “in view of all of the circumstances

surrounding the incident, a reasonable person would have

believed that he was not free to leave.” [5] Even if one were to

question whether Mrs. Torres fits the standard of a

“reasonable person” due to her being under the influence of

methamphetamines, it seems clear that, even with reduced

faculties, one would assume they were unable to simply end

the encounter if they were being fired upon. As such, under

this definition, it would be rather clear that a seizure had

taken place in the case of Mrs. Torres’ escape because the use

of deadly force would have made her believe that she was not

free to end the engagement at any time.

California v. Hodari D. was argued before the Supreme

Court in 1991. In this case, two police officers were on patrol

in an unmarked car in Oakland, California. The officers took

notice of a group of kids huddled around a red car and the

kids panicked and ran away once they saw the police officers.

The officers chased down one of these kids (Hodari D.) and,

just before one of the officers apprehended him, he disposed

of “what appeared to be a small rock” which later proved to

be crack cocaine. [6] Hodari D. argued that the evidence of

cocaine should be suppressed in trial because he was subject

to an unlawful seizure at the time it was discovered.

Here, the Supreme Court expressly divided efforts by police

to stop people into two categories. The first category

consisted of efforts involving a “show of authority”, which

included actions such as an order to stop or an officer placing

their hand upon their weapon. [7] This form of effort to stop

people was deemed to only be constituted as a seizure if there

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people was deemed to only be constituted as a seizure if there

is “submission to an officer’s ‘show of authority’ to restrain

the subject’s liberty.” [8] In the cases of Hodari D. and Mrs.

Torres, their respective interactions with law enforcement

would not have constituted seizures under the first category,

as neither individual submitted to the officer’s “show of

authority.” However, the second category of authoritative

effort to stop subjects, which constitutes a “quintessential

‘seizure of the person’ under Fourth Amendment

jurisprudence,” involves “the application of physical force,

however slight.” [9] In Hodari’s case, the officer didn’t apply

physical force until after he had already discarded the illegal

substances, so the evidence was ultimately not dismissed.

However, in the case of Mrs. Torres—given the use of

physical and even deadly force by police officers—precedent

dictates that this encounter clearly qualifies as a seizure.

If upheld, the Tenth Circuit Court’s ruling would not only

shield police officers from ultimate liability in these cases,

but it would also forbid any inquiry into the wrongdoing of

the officer if the suspect escapes. The American Civil

Liberties Union phrased it well in their amicus curiae brief :

“If the Fourth Amendment is to govern meaningfully the

state’s application of physical force, each application should

be evaluated for its reasonableness, rather than categorically

exempting a large swath of dangerous physical encounters

from any Fourth Amendment constraints.” [10] This new

precedent would pose a particularly great threat to

communities of color, who are disproportionately likely to be

victims of police brutality. [11]

According to a study by the Proceedings of the National

Academy of Sciences of the United States, Latino men and

Black women are approximately 1.4 times as likely to be

killed by police as their white counterparts, while Black men

are about 2 5 times as likely as white men to be killed by

10/28/21, 6:56 PM Torres v. Madrid: What Constitutes “Seizure” under the 4th Amendment? — Columbia Undergraduate Law Review

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are about 2.5 times as likely as white men to be killed by

police force. [12] If any of these men or women were

otherwise able to escape law enforcement, they would be

denied the ability to contest the legality of the violence they

faced. The NAACP argues that “[b]y exempting a category

of police shootings from Fourth Amendment scrutiny, [this]

decision…will make it even more difficult to remedy state-

sponsored violence, thus exacerbating the reasonable fear of

such violence that continues to define the lived experiences

of too many African Americans.” [13] Indeed, Ashok

Chandran, NAACP Legal Defense Fund Assistant Counsel,

makes the case that “African Americans have borne the brunt

of police brutality throughout our nation’s history until the

present day” and that “[u]nduly narrowing the Fourth

Amendment to exclude obvious forms of police uses of force

from constitutional scrutiny will further endanger the lives of

many Black individuals and deprive them of relief in even the

most egregious cases.” [14]

Some may argue that other avenues of legal recourse exist for

victims of police brutality, even if law enforcement cannot be

found guilty of a Fourth Amendment violation. Protections

against excessive force by law enforcement can also be

covered by the Fourteenth Amendment. [15] However, in

many cases, the Fourth Amendment is the sole recourse for

these victims. The Fourteenth Amendment is only applicable

in the case of excessive force against a pretrial detainee

because the Due Process Clause prevents the deprivation of

liberty against these detainees without fair legal procedure.

[16] Mrs. Torres, however, was not a pretrial detainee. As

such, she and those in similar situations rely on the Fourth

Amendment as their source of protection against police

brutality. Specifically in Graham v. Connor (1989), the

Court affirmed that the Fourth Amendment ser ves as the

constitutional source of protection from cases of excessive

10/28/21, 6:56 PM Torres v. Madrid: What Constitutes “Seizure” under the 4th Amendment? — Columbia Undergraduate Law Review

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force which arise “during arrest, investigatory stop or other

seizure.” [17] Therefore, a failure to hear a Fourth

Amendment defense would deny the sole source of legal

recourse available to those like Mrs. Torres.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court now has the opportunity to

rectif y the legal misinterpretation of “seizures” set forth by

the Tenth Circuit Court. The new rule imposed by the

Circuit Court’s interpretation not only conflicts with

historical foundations of Fourth Amendment principles—

which have always intended to ser ve as a means of limiting

government intrusions on persons and property—but also

stands in direct opposition to the Court’s understanding of

seizures as laid out by cases like California v. Hodari D. and

United States v. Mendenhall. Even beyond that, this case is of

paramount importance because of the dangerous miscarriage

of justice that would ensue from establishing this new rule

which defines seizures by law enforcement. With police

brutality normalized within communities of color, the Tenth

Circuit Court’s ruling must be rejected. The Supreme Court

must ensure that potential victims of excessive force are, at

the very least, afforded the judicial inquiry into law

enforcement’s wrongdoing that they are due.

Edited by Crystal Foretia

[1] Torres v. Madrid, 769 F. App’x 654 (10th Cir. 2019)

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[ ] d d h ll 446 44 4

10/28/21, 6:56 PM Torres v. Madrid: What Constitutes “Seizure” under the 4th Amendment? — Columbia Undergraduate Law Review

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[5] United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544, 553–54


[6] California v. Hodari D., 499 U.S. 621 (1991)

[7] Ibid

[8] Ibid

[9] Ibid

[10] American Civil Liberties Union Brief of Amicus Curiae,

Torres v. Madrid, Docket No. 19-292 (2020)

[11] Amina Khan, “Getting killed by police is a leading cause

of death for young black men in America”, Los Angeles Times,

16 August 2019,



(visited March 20, 2020)

[12] Frank Edwards et. al, “Risk of being killed by police use

of force in the United States by age, race–ethnicity, and sex”

Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences of the

United States of America, 5 August 2019

[13] National Association for the Advancement of Colored

People Amicus Curiae Brief, Torres v. Madrid, Docket No.

19-292 (2020)

[14] LDF Submits Amicus Brief Urging Supreme Court to

Reaffirm Constitutional Protections for Citizens Shot by Police

Officers, NAACP Legal Defense Fund (2020), online at



protections-for-citizens-shot-by-police-officers/ (visited

March 20, 2020)

[ ] h ll h “ d h h

10/28/21, 6:56 PM Torres v. Madrid: What Constitutes “Seizure” under the 4th Amendment? — Columbia Undergraduate Law Review

https://www.culawreview.org/journal/torres-v-madrid-what-constitutes-seizure-under-the-4th-amendment 7/8


Voter Rights Amidst Crisis: The Repercussions of COVID-19


National Emergency Exemption: Patents in the Time of Coronavirus

[15] Mitchell Karsch, “Excessive Force and the Fourth

Amendment: When Does Seizure End?” 58 Fordham Law

Review 823 (1990)

[16] Ibid

[17] Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989)


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