Friday, June 4, 2010

Justice Sonia Sotomayor Criticizes Majority Ruling on Miranda Rights

The US Supreme Court majority, in WARDEN v. THOMPKINS, decided June 1, 2010, has effectively withdrawn much of the protection that Miranda once provided, by requiring a "clear statement" of an arrested person of his his/her decision to remain silent, before police must stop questioning a suspect.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a strongly dissenting defense of the system that has been in place for two generations, denouncing the Supreme Court majority's new requirement that a suspect must clearly say that he will not say anything, in order to invoke his right to remain silent.  Justice Sotomayor criticized the US Supreme Courts June 1 WARDEN v. THOMPKINS decision, saying:
Today’s decision turns Miranda upside down. Criminal suspects must now unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent—which, counterintuitively, requires them to speak. At the same time, suspects will be legally presumed to have waived their rights even if they have given no clear expression of their intent to do so. Those results, in my view, find no basis in Miranda or our subsequent cases and are inconsistent with the fair-trial principles on which those precedents are grounded. Today’s broad new rules are all the more unfortunate because they are unnecessary to the disposition of the case before us. I respectfully dissent. WARDEN v. THOMPKINS
I personally hope this case indicates that Justice Sotomayor (soon to be joined by Justice Kagan on the Court) will defend the rights of public when faced by often brutal, atrocious and coercive police officers.