Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Flaws with Miranda

In 1966, the court decided another landmark case: Miranda v. Arizona. The outcome of the case was the police had to read “Miranda” rights to every suspect taken into custody across the country: Therefore, a defendant must be warned prior to any questioning that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so desires.

The Miranda majority decision written by Chief Justice Earl Warren was over 60 pages long. It read more like congressional legislation than it did like a judge’s decision. This was the first decision where the Court truly acted as an extension of Congress in the political realm and is the reason why Court appointees are so hotly contested in modern politics since the Court now has the power to create new laws.

One reason for the Miranda decision was to protect disenfranchised minorities, who were undereducated, from being coerced into confessions through long interrogations. Ernesto Miranda was arrested and confessed to rape. However, the confession was not coerced and he was notified of his Fifth Amendment rights (was not informed of the right to a lawyer since that is not in the Constitution for police station questioning). In fact, Miranda’s written and signed confession was done so with impeccable penmanship and spelling. Miranda was not disenfranchised by any stretch of the imagination.

Although most claim that the Miranda decision was done to protect all Americans, this is far from the truth. It was done to protect criminals. However, it is glaringly obvious that the Miranda decisions does not care about the rights of victims, nor does it care about the right of citizens who are endangered when guilty criminals are placed back into the general population because confessions are not obtained or ruled inadmissible. In fact, it is believed that Miranda has led to 10% more criminals walking the streets.

The Courts ruling was clearly an imagined interpretation of the sixth amendment which clearly states that suspects need to have lawyer representation when in court, not in the police station.

The federal government has been opposed to the Miranda decision since its inception. In 2000, the Court decided in Dickerson v. United States that Miranda cannot be overruled by a federal statute. The Court decided that Miranda has been entrenched in law enforcement and has become a way of society or our culture. However, changes in technology should lead to some changes in Miranda that would be beneficial to both the police and criminals such as videotaping interrogations, body cams for law enforcement, etc. But the law is rigid and there is no flexibility to make changes to modernize the law.

The Miranda decision basically overruled 50% of all convictions in American history up to 1966. That cannot be done without reading more into the Constitution than what is actually there. To overcome this problem the Court set a date for the Miranda era to start and all prior cases were grandfathered in to the previous law system. In other words, people were imprisoned legally, based on two completely different standards according to the Court.

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