Sunday, December 13, 2009

Supreme Court Hears Arguments On Miranda Case

Last Monday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on a case that could affect the application of Miranda warnings.  The case is out of Florida and involves the case of Kevin Dwayne Powell. Powell was convicted of Unlawful Possession of a Firearm.  After he was arrested, Powell told the police he had purchased the gun for $150 "off the street" for protection.  Before he made the confession Powell signed a Miranda waiver which did not state that he had a right to have a lawyer present with him during questioning.  The Miranda waiver only stated that he had a right to a lawyer before answering any questions.  The Florida Supreme Court overturned the conviction on the basis that the police did not adequately warn Powell that he had a right to a lawyer during questioning.  The Florida Attorney General's Office argued that the warnings given to Powell "expresses all the rights required under Miranda." Powell's lawyer argued that the warnings given to Powell gave him the impression that once the questioning started he no longer had a right to consult with an attorney.

This is the third Miranda case case argued before the Supreme Court this year.  With these cases, the Supreme Court has a chance to make significant changes to our understanding of the Miranda warnings.  All three decisions are expected to be released next year.

The case is Florida v. Powell, 08-1175.

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