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In what famous decision did the U.S. Supreme Court establish certain rights to persons facing interrogation and questioning from police?

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in four consolidated cases—Miranda v. Arizona, Vignera v. New York, Westover v. United States, and California v. Stewart—that law enforcement officials could not use statements obtained from a police interrogation unless they demonstrated the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination. The Court held that police violate the Fifth Amendment if they do not inform a suspect prior to questioning that he or she has: (1) a right to remain silent; (2) that any statement he or she makes can be used against them in a court of law; (3) that he or she has the right to have an attorney present during questioning; and (4) that if he or she cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to them. If law enforcement officials fail to provide these procedural safeguards, the Court said that evidence obtained during such interrogations cannot be used against the suspect.

Who was Miranda in the famous case?

Ernesto A. Miranda was a criminal defendant convicted of rape who challenged his conviction in a U.S. Supreme Court case that bears his name. Miranda was arrested on suspicion of robbery. During a two-hour interrogation at a Phoenix police station, Miranda not only confessed to the robbery, but also to sexually assaulting and raping a woman 11 days earlier. The police officers never informed Miranda that he had a right to have a lawyer present during questioning. A jury convicted Miranda of kidnapping and rape and sentenced him to 20 to 30 years for each offense. Miranda's lawyers argued that their client's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination was violated by the coercive interrogation. In Miranda v. Arizona (1966; see LegalSpeak, p. 66), the U.S. Supreme Court agreed.

What happened to Ernesto A. Miranda after the U.S. Supreme Court decision?

Prosecutors retried Miranda without evidence obtained from his confession. The prosecution presented the testimony of Miranda's common-law wife, who claimed that during a prison visit, Miranda confessed to her that he had raped the victim. A jury convicted him again on charges of kidnapping and rape in 1966. Miranda was paroled in 1972. However, in 1976, Miranda was stabbed to death in a bar fight. At the time of his death, he was carrying cards containing the text of the Miranda warnings.

What is due process?

Due process—a freedom also found in the Fourteenth Amendment— is one of the most important rights in the American legal system. It ensures a basic level of fundamental fairness before the state infringes on individual liberty.

You must be read your Miranda rights if you are taken into custody. Named after the case involving Ernesto A. Miranda, this procedure informs you about, among other things, your right to legal council (iStock).

You must be read your Miranda rights if you are taken into custody. Named after the case involving Ernesto A. Miranda, this procedure informs you about, among other things, your right to legal council (iStock).

LegalSpeak: Miranda v. Arizona (1966)

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled:

In these cases, we might not find the defendants' statements to have been involuntary in traditional terms. Our concern for adequate safeguards to protect precious Fifth Amendment rights is, of course, not lessened in the slightest. In each of the cases, the defendant was thrust into an unfamiliar atmosphere and run through menacing police interrogation procedures. The potentiality for compulsion is forcefully apparent, for example, in Miranda, where the indigent Mexican defendant was a seriously disturbed individual with pronounced sexual fantasies....

Today, then, there can be no doubt that the Fifth Amendment privilege is available outside of criminal court proceedings and serves to protect persons in all settings in which their freedom of action is curtailed in any significant way from being compelled to incriminate themselves. We have concluded that without proper safeguards the process of in-custody interrogation of persons suspected or accused of crime contains inherently compelling pressures which work to undermine the individual's will to resist and to compel him to speak where he would not otherwise do so freely. In order to combat these pressures and to permit a full opportunity to exercise the privilege against self-incrimination, the accused must be adequately and effectively apprised of his rights and the exercise of those rights must be fully honored..

The warning of the right to remain silent must be accompanied by the explanation that anything said can and will be used against the individual in court. This warning is needed in order to make him aware not only of the privilege, but also of the consequences of forgoing it. It is only through an awareness of these consequences that there can be any assurance of real understanding and intelligent exercise of the privilege. Moreover, this warning may serve to make the individual more acutely aware that he is faced with a phase of the adversary system—that he is not in the presence of persons acting solely in his interest.

Due process has often been divided into two basic categories: procedural due process and substantive due process. Procedural due process means that the government must guarantee a fair process before taking away an individual's life, liberty, or property. The basic elements to procedural due process are notice and the right to a fair hearing. This prevents the government from arbitrarily taking away someone's job or freedom.

Substantive due process means that laws cannot be irrational and arbitrary. Instead laws must advance a legitimate, governmental objective. Normally, the government must have a rational basis for its laws.

What is just compensation?

Just compensation means that before the government takes away or infringes upon someone's private-property rights, that they must provide just compensation. The government does possess the power of eminent domain, or the right to take private property for public use. However, the Fifth Amendment requires that the government give "just compensation" before invoking this sovereign power.

What recent decision on eminent domain and just compensation outraged many?

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. City of New London (2005) outraged many who believed that the Court overstepped its bounds. The city of New London, Connecticut, instituted its power of eminent domain to take property away from nine landowners to transfer the property to a private corporation as part of an economic development and revitalization plan. The landowners sued, contending that the city violated the Fifth Amendment, which provides in part: "Nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation."

The landowners contended that the forced transfer of property from themselves to another private owner was not a "public use." The Court majority determined that the city's decision to take the property for the purpose of economic development satisfied the "public use" requirement of the Fifth Amendment.

Justice O'Connor authored a strong dissent: "Under the banner of economic development, all private property is now vulnerable to being taken and transferred to another private owner, so long as it might be upgraded—i.e., given to an owner who will use it in a way that the legislature deems more beneficial to the public—in the process."

Justice Thomas also wrote a dissenting opinion, questioning the majority's wisdom: "If such "economic development' takings are for a 'public use,' any taking is, and the Court has erased the Public Use Clause from our Constitution."

 
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