Thursday, June 3, 2010

Miranda gutted?

In 1966 the SCOTUS handed down the famous Miranda ruling which established once and for all that citizens have constitutional rights which really do matter. Law enforcement has a long tradition of abuse, whether here or in foreign lands. Cops are human, and some are on a power trip. When they get it into their head that Joe Snuffy is guilty, they will be after him like a dog on a fresh bone, even if Joe is as innocent as the day is long. Tenaciousness is a good quality in a cop, don't get me wrong. Combine it with hard headedness, and too much free reign and you will end up with inocent folks being rail roaded.
Miranda is a good thing. I think it should have limitations, but the limits I want to see come into play after the conviction. After conviction and sentencing, if a person wants to appeal, then htey should be required to give up their rights. I favor requiring lie detector testing on all appeals.
As for the present ruling, I do not see it as gutting Miranda. If a person just sits and says nothing, there is no reason for the cops to stop. They can play their nice guy routine, and coerce a confession of sorts. better to have the subject simply state "I got nuthin to say", and end all doubt. If that is on tape, then it is clear they do not want to talk. If there is no indication, then it might be assumed the guy is thinking about whether he wants to talk. A lot of departments use a printed form that explains the rights warning. the subject is given the form and allowed to read it or it is read to him. at the end, he has several boxes to initial. One is that he understands his rights, and the second is whether he wants to speak or does not want to speak.
I do not like coerced confessions. many are BS. not all, but one is too many. we do not need inocent people behind bars while the crooks remain free to kill rob etc. or my two cents, any confession should be tossed if it does not add previously unknown details to the investigation. If a per whether mirandized or not admits a crime, it is questionable. If he in his confession gives details such as the location of the weapon or the body, even if coerced, it is proof of guilt that should be admitted. When a confession is coerced, even a correct one, we should punish the cop who coerces it. Officers can decide if geting a homicidal maniac off the street is worth a few nights behind bars or a small fine. Many dedicated cops would say it was, and many common citizens would pitch in a dollar to support a cop who got a really bad perp off the street.
As for SCOTUS, balance is tough. This call does not gut anything, it justs shifts the paradigm.

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