The case, Miranda v.
Arizona, can be considered alandmark and controversial case in U.S. Supreme Court history. Miranda v.
Arizona helped establish whatis now known as the “Miranda Warning,” a statement required of all lawenforcement officials to be given to criminal suspects in custody before theyare interrogated. This warning ensures that suspects being interrogated isaware of their Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, and thatthey are aware of their right to have an attorney present or to have one appointedto them. As I learned through extensive research, this decision by the Warrencourt was widely criticized as being detrimental to the job of police officersand possibly leading to an increase in crime. Case Summary In March of 1963,Ernesto Miranda was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona for the kidnapping and rape ofan eighteen-year-old woman.1Miranda was interrogated for two hours straight, until the police were able toobtain a written confession from him for the rape charge. Miranda was alsoidentified by a witness in a line-up at the police station. The police officersresponsible for the interrogation never explicitly told Miranda of his right tohave an attorney present, of his right to remain silent and not incriminatehimself, or that his signed confession could be admitted as evidence at trial.
The written confession was admitted into trial despite Miranda’s lawyer arguingagainst it, citing a failure on the police officer’s part in not informingMiranda of his rights. Miranda was convicted for the the kidnapping and rapecharges and sentenced to serve 20-30 years in prison. Alvin Moore, Miranda’slawyer, appealed the case to the Arizona Supreme Court but they affirmed the trialcourt’s decision and held that no rights had been violated.2The case was appealed a second time to the United States Supreme Court andgranted a writ of certiorari, where it was heard alongside three other casespertaining to the same issue, Vignera v.
New York, Westover v. United States, andCalifornia v. Stewart. “In each of these cases, the defendant was questioned by policeofficers, detectives, or a prosecuting attorney in a room in which he was cutoff from the outside world.
In none of these cases was the defendant given afull and effective warning of his rights at the outset of the interrogationprocess. In all the cases, the questioning elicited oral admissions and, inthree of them, signed statements that were admitted at trial.”3The legal issue/questionbefore the U.
S. Supreme Court was that of whether the Fifth Amendment’sprotection against self-incrimination applies to suspects during policeinterrogations and whether it should be a requirement for police officers toexplicitly inform a suspect of their rights before questioning takes place. TheArizona Supreme Court ruling was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4decision, with Justices Warren, Black, Douglas, and Fortas in favor, andJustices Clark, Harlan, Stewart, and White dissenting. Chief Justice EarlWarren, joinedby Justices Black, Douglas, Brennan, and Fortas, delivered themajority opinion of the court stating, “there can be no doubt that theFifth Amendment privilege is available outside of criminal court proceedings,and serves to protect persons in all settings in which their freedom of actionis curtailed in any significant way from being compelled to incriminatethemselves,” (Miranda v. Arizona 384U.S.
436). The court held that an accused person in custody is undersignificant pressure, and may not be able to resist the urge to speak, orconfess. Because of this, according to Chief Justice Warren, “proper safeguards”must be put into place in order to properly allow suspects to exercise theirright to not self-incriminate, those proper safeguards being an explicitexplanation of their rights by the officer(s). This also applies to the suspect’s right to anattorney, and if the suspect requests an attorney, no questioning can takeplace until the attorney is present.
Justice Tom Clark wrote one of the multiple dissentingopinions in which he claimed that the Court’s interpretation of the FifthAmendment in this case was too strict and that this would prohibit policeofficers from doing their job effectively. Justice Clark also stated that justbecause a suspect is not explicitly told his rights, does not mean theirconfessions and statements during interrogation should be left out of evidencein trial. Justice John Harlan also wrote a separate dissenting opinion where hestated that the Fifth Amendment is not meant to prohibit pressure/distress on asuspect and that there is no legal precedent requiring that suspects beexplicitly informed of their rights. Finally, Justice Byron White wrote a thirdand final dissenting opinion in which he cited textualism claiming that theoriginal language of the Fifth Amendment contains no basis for the Court’sruling.
Justice White stated, “the proposition that the privilege againstself-incrimination forbids in-custody interrogation without the warningsspecified in the majority opinion and without a clear waiver of counsel has nosignificant support in the history of the privilege or in the language of theFifth Amendment.”4 Process Summary As previouslystated, this case first began in an Arizona trial court in the city of Phoenix.Ernesto Miranda was arrested and charged with the kidnapping and rape of an eighteen-year-oldwoman in March of 1963. After two hours of interrogation, the police officershad acquired a singed confession from Miranda and the case was set for trial. Miranda’strial began in June of 1963.
In the Arizona trial court, the signed confessionwas used as the main piece of evidence in the case against Miranda, withMiranda’s defense attorney not being able to do anything to stop it from beingadmitted. With this evidence, the court found Ernesto Miranda guilty for both kidnapping,count 1, and rape, count 2, and sentenced him to 20-30 years incarceration.After this conviction, Miranda and his lawyer decided to appeal the case to theArizona Supreme Court.
The Court decided to hear the case in April of 1965. Thecase was heard En Banc by the Arizona Supreme Court who decided to affirm the Arizonatrial court’s decision, holding that the written confession could be admittedas evidence.5 Finally,Ernesto Miranda appealed the case to the U.
S. Supreme Court and was granted awrit of certiorari in 1966. In the U.S. Supreme Court, the Arizona Supreme Courtruling was reversed, with the majority opinion holding that the Fifth Amendmentrequires law enforcement officials to explicitly inform a suspect in custody oftheir rights.
Miranda was represented by attorney John Frank in his appeal tothe U.S. Supreme Court. Application In my research, Ihave found five aspects of this case that can be applied to material discussedin class. First, is the application of the Legal Modelin the dissenting opinion by Justice Byron White. The legal model is one of multiplemodels used by political scientists in order to determine how judges and justicesmake decisions in court cases. The main idea behind the legal model is thatjudges and justices will look only to the guidance of the law and what iswritten in order to make their decisions, without letting their personalbeliefs and attitudes influence their decisions. As stated in the case summarysection of this paper, in his dissenting opinion, Justice White cites theoriginal language found in the Fifth Amendment of the U.
S. Constitution in hisargument against the Court’s majority opinion. According to Justice White, thetext of the Fifth Amendment does not specifically state that a person beingheld in custody and interrogated must be explicitly told of their rights toprotection from self-incrimination. This opinion applies perfectly to thedefinition of “originalism” when it comes to court decision making, as JusticeWhite is looking to the guidance of the original text of the Fifth Amendmentand choosing to base his opinion and decision on how it is written exactly. Second,we come to the notion of judicial activism. When looking at the majorityopinion of this case in particular, you get a sense of strong constitutional interpretationfrom the five justices that vote in favor of reversing the Arizona Supreme Courtdecision.
While judicial activism has many definitions, in general it isconsidered to be a doctrine or philosophy where judges and justices see fit todevelop new legal principles, using their own personal beliefs and views inorder to affect policy change, even if it goes against policy decisions by the otherbranches of government. As stated previously, the text of the Fifth Amendmentdoes not explicitly state that law enforcement officials are required to read asuspect in custody their rights, yet the majority opinion justices, in decidingon this case, decided to interpret the language of the constitution in theirown way and create new policy for law enforcement officials across the country,even though it would go against the wishes of some congressional members at thetime who sought to preserve state’s rights when it came to law enforcement policy.6It is also not a surprise that this decision came from the Warren Court, whichis historically known for its liberal agenda and its increased use of judicialactivism for many landmark cases pertaining to civil rights and civil libertiesissues.
Third,we come to the notion of congressional response to the Court’s statutory andconstitutional interpretations. As we learned in class, congress canoftentimes, when in disagreement with a court’s decision and interpretation oflaw, choose to pass certain acts, statutes, or amendments in order to overruleSupreme Court Decisions. Through my research, I found that following the decisionin Miranda v. Arizona, congresselected to pass the “Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act” in 1968, whichallowed the Miranda decision to be ignored in federal criminal cases. Still,this act was not strictly enforced, and future presidents instructed federalofficers to continue using Miranda Warnings when dealing with detained suspectsin federal cases. 6 Although the act has been largely ignored byfederal officials, the passing of this act demonstrates the power of thelegislative and executive branches over particularly controversial andpolarizing Supreme Court decisions. This also helps to show the power of oursystem of government in the ability of the three branches to continuouslydebate certain topics and affect policy changes but with a certain respect foreach other’s decisions.
Fourth,is “cue theory” and the factors that influence cert decisions. As we learned inclass, it can be very difficult discern exactly the type of cases that will begranted a writ of certiorari by the U.S. Supreme Court. The official “Rule 10” isvery vague and explains little in how Supreme Court justices will decide tohear a case. Yet, political scientists, over time, have learned that there aremany informal criteria that can lead to a case being granted a writ of certiorari,one of those being cue theory. Cue theory is the idea that the likelihood of acase being granted certiorari will increase by 80% if the case deals with civilliberties issues, disagreements among judges of lower courts, or if the federalgovernment is a petitioner. And still, we also learned that many petitions tothe supreme court by convicted criminals are rarely granted cert as justicessee these cases as frivolous, with the prisoners just looking for any way out.
Yet,Ernesto Miranda’s case was granted a writ of certiorari, and in my opinion, alarge part of it has to do with cue theory and the ideology of the court at thetime. When studying Miranda v. Arizona closely,it is clear that from the beginning the case had the makings of a historicalcivil liberties issue, something which cue theory tells us increases thechances of the case being granted a writ of certiorari. Even with thepetitioner being a convicted criminal, the liberal ideology of the Warrencourt, with an already impressive history of landmark cases, such as Brown v. Board of Education, along with thecase’s strong civil liberties issues, was bound to be granted a writ ofcertiorari by the Court. Fifth,we come to the notion of first-level appellate court decision making. In classwe learned that appellate courts, at times, allow external factors to play arole in the decisions that are made. In the case of Miranda v.
Arizona, you can see how some of these external factorscould have played a role on the decision by the Arizona Supreme Court to affirmthe trial Court’s decision. While the Arizona Supreme Court is technically asecond level appellate court, in many ways, as a state court, its decisionmaking is influenced in large part by factors that do not play a role in U.S.Supreme Court decision making.
U.S. Supreme Court justices have the luxury of beingable able to make decisions on cases based in large part on their ideologiesand beliefs, if you choose to believe in the attitudinal model. This is becauseU.S. Supreme Court justices are largely exempt from electoral and politicalaccountability, as well as having no ambition for higher office.
The justiceson the Arizona Supreme Court, on the other hand, have to be somewhat morecareful in their decision making, often times following the ideology of thegovernor that appointed them or choosing to not reverse as many lower court decisionsin order to prevent tension with other judges. Arizona justices can also moreeasily fall prey to budget/salary cuts, a worsening of their workingconditions, and the possibility of not getting promoted to higher office. Becauseof this, I believe their decision to affirm the trial court’s ruling in theErnesto Miranda case could have been somewhat affected by these externaldecision-making factors that plague many of the courts below the U.S. Supreme Court.
Conclusion Inconclusion, it is clear that this Supreme Court case will go down in history asyet another landmark decision for the Warren Court. Yet it also clearly had avery polarizing effect on the public. 1Markman, Stephen J. 1986.”Miranda v.
Arizona: Historical Perspective.” American Criminal LawReview 24 (2): 193-242.2″Miranda v.
org/cases/1965/759 (December 12, 2017).3″Facts and Case Summary -Miranda v. Arizona.” United States Courts.http://www.uscourts.
gov/educational-resources/educational-activities/facts-and-case-summary-miranda-v-arizona(December 12, 2017). 4″Miranda v. Arizona 384 U.S. 436 (1966).” Justia Law. https://supreme.
justia.com/cases/federal/us/384/436/case.html(October 30, 2017)5″State v. Miranda, 401 P.
2d721, 98 Ariz. 18 – CourtListener.Com.” CourtListener.https://www.
courtlistener.com/opinion/1297557/state-v-miranda/ (December 12,2017).6Ley, Aaron J.
; Verhovek, Gordie.2014. “The Political Foundations of Miranda v. Arizona and the Quarles PublicSafety Exception.” Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law 19 (2):206-251.