Supreme Court Rewrites Miranda Warning

By BitcoDavid

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and an Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

In the United States, a person who is going to...

In the United States, a person who is going to be questioned by police when he or she is in police custody must be read his or her “Miranda rights”. The Miranda warning assumes people don’t understand what their rights are so it requires police officers to read a statement to people being arrested which informs them that they have certain rights, such as the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On June 1st, 2010 Justice Kennedy delivered the Court’s ruling in Burghuis vs. Thomkins 560 U.S. __, No. 08-1470. The case involved Van C. Thompkins Jr., who remained mostly silent during a three-hour interrogation, but finally confessed to the killing of Samuel Morris. Thompkins’ confession was used against him at his trial, which ended with a conviction of first-degree murder.

Thompkins appealed using the fact that he had initially opted to remain silent, but police continued to interrogate him. An appeals court, in 2008, agreed with him.

But the SCOTUS ruled against him, stating that it is not only necessary to remain silent, but that you need to state verbally – at the onset of the interrogation – that you wish to exercise that right. It would be similar to invoking your 5th amendment rights. In other words, it is necessary to reply – to each question – when taking the fifth, “I refuse to answer on the grounds my answer may incriminate me.”


Alright, McGillicuddy. Did ya kill that nun? I refuse to answer under my Miranda rights. You’re goin’ to take the spike for this, McGillicuddy. I refuse to answer under my Miranda rights. McGillicuddy? Do you believe in God? I refuse to answer under my Miranda rights. What about your family? Do they know what a scumbag you are? I refuse to answer under my Miranda rights.

You get the idea.

Here’s the PDF of the SCOTUS ruling.

Here’s a link that explains all the legal ins and outs.

And here’s one from our side:

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