Monday, March 1, 2010

Supreme Court Hears Arguments On Another Miranda Case

Today, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on another case exploring the limitations of Miranda.  In 2001, Van Chester Thompkins was arrested for a murder and was interrogated by the police for three hours.  At the beginning of the questioning, he was read his Miranda warnings and stated that he understood them.  He would answer questions with "yes" or "no" or "I don't want to be questioned."  At the end of the questioning, one of the officers asked if he prayed for forgiveness for shooting the boy and Thompkins broke down and said "yes."  Thompkins was convicted of the murder but appealed arguing that his confession should be thrown out because he invoked his Miranda rights by being uncommunicative with the officers.  The Court of Appeals agreed with Thompkins and threw out his confession.  The question presented is very interesting.  Does the right to remain silent have to be verbalized or is the fact that the defendant remains silent deemed to be an invocation of the right to remain silent?

The Supreme Court should rule on this case by the end of this year.  

The case is Berghuis v. Thompkins, 08-1470.

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