Followers of this post know that we have been reporting about a steady stream of Supreme Court rulings that are having the effect of eroding Miranda. In a recent decision, the Supreme Court has continued the process. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court ruled, in a 5 to 4 decision that a criminal suspect in police custody must make a simple, unambiguous statement that he or she wants to remain silent or that he or she does not want to talk to the police. Criminal suspects can no longer invoke their right to remain silent by simply remaining silent. Absent any simple, unambiguous statement that he or she wants to remain silent, any incriminating statement made by the suspect can be used against them in court. The case in questions involves Van Chester Thompkins. He was involved in a shooting outside of a Michigan shopping mall in January of 2000. A year and a half later he was interrogated by the police. Prior to questioning he was advised of his Miranda warnings but refused to sign a form indicating that he acknowledged that he had been given the warnings. Police state that he verbally confirmed that he understood his rights. Thompkins denies that he gave them any verbal acknowledgment. Thompkins remained silent during the questioning until 2 hours and 45 minutes into the questioning. Tears welled up in his eyes and the officer asked him if he prayed for forgiveness for shooting the victim and Thompkins stated "yes" to that question. The Court of Appeals threw out the statement but the United States Supreme Court overturned the decision because Thompkins did not make a verbal statement that he wished to remain silent.
The case is Berghuis v. Thompkins.
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