Posted by Jeff from d53-152-230.try.wideopenwest.com (220.127.116.11) on Monday, April 21, 2003 at 6:50PM :
Court to Revisit Scope of Miranda Warning
1 hour, 37 minutes ago
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By ANNE GEARAN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court will re-examine the familiar legal warning beginning, "You have the right to remain silent," to answer whether police always must read suspects their rights before seizing drugs or other evidence they plan to use at trial.
At issue is a potential loophole that arises when a suspect tells police not to bother with the warning, or when a suspect owns up to a crime before police have a chance to read all the "Miranda rights."
The court's eventual ruling also could address arrests in which an officer fails to read the rights but a suspect talks anyway.
A lower court concluded that if police find physical evidence after such an encounter it cannot be used against the suspect in court.
The case is a follow-up to a major ruling three years ago in which the high court underscored that police must warn suspects that they do not have to cooperate or answer questions. That ruling reaffirmed the 1966 Miranda v. Arizona decision that gave the warnings their name.
The Bush administration asked the high court to look at the case of a Colorado man arrested in 2001 for violating a domestic restraining order. Samuel Patane cut off a detective who started to read him his rights, and then voluntarily directed police to a Glock pistol in his bedroom. Patane, who had a felony record, was charged with illegal possession of a gun.
Patane's lawyer argued the lower court got it right, and there is no reason for the Supreme Court to get involved.
Solicitor General Theodore Olson, the administration's top Supreme Court lawyer, said officers should not be penalized for taking Patane at his word that he already knew his rights, or in other cases where "warnings may be omitted during a fast-moving investigation."
"The question whether Miranda requires exclusion not only of the suspect's unwarned statement but also its tangible fruits thus arises with some frequency," Olson wrote in asking the Supreme Court to hear the case.
Deanne Maynard, a Washington lawyer who wrote a friend of the court brief for criminal defense lawyers in the 2000 police warnings case, said the court has touched on the issue with earlier rulings but never squarely ruled on it.
The case the court agreed to hear next fall partly turns on how lower courts have applied earlier Supreme Court rulings. A federal appeals court found that the 2000 ruling undermined two earlier decisions in which the Supreme Court allowed evidence to be used at trial.
The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (news - web sites) ruled last year that the gun could not be used as evidence against Patane because it was the tainted "fruit" of a statement made without a Miranda warning.
Olson said the lower court ruling threatens to hamstring prosecutors.
The high court should step in "because the suppression of probative physical evidence in such cases imposes serious costs on the administration of justice," Olson wrote.
In another case, the court agreed to take a fresh look at police rules for searching stopped cars. The court agreed to hear an appeal from Arizona involving the 1999 arrest of a man who had just parked his car in a driveway.
A search of Rodney Gant's car turned up cocaine and drug paraphernalia. A state appeals court ruled that the evidence could not be used against Gant, because he did not know police were after him when he parked the car.
The cases are United States v. Patane, 02-1183, and Arizona v. Gant, 02-1019.
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