Make a choice:
You can -
A. Save 1,000 lives by stopping a terrorist attack, or
B. Lose a court case against one terrorist because you didn’t read him Miranda rights.
Hopefully you’ve been raised in a civilized society with a culture of life so that “A” was your easy choice.
But take heart all of you who want to save 1,000 people and still convict the terrorist without Miranda. You can do both.
For some reason, the term “Miranda” has been elevated by many to a word of religious reverence. They believe Miranda to be the grand dame of due process, without which no fair trial can ever occur.
Those people remind me of a story my law school criminal procedure professor related about his mother. Upon hearing that Ernesto Miranda had died, she lamented, “Oh how sad; after all he did for us.” She had been so accustomed to thinking of “Miranda rights” as “good” that she didn’t realize Miranda was not a civil rights leader – he was a criminal (in Arizona) who kidnapped and raped a mentally retarded girl. His conviction was overturned because, although he had the right to remain silent and retain a lawyer like everyone else, the police didn’t remind him of it before he confessed.
One enormous misunderstanding many people have is that if you don’t read a suspect Miranda rights, the case against him goes away – that you can’t convict him. That’s just not so. Miranda himself was later re-tried without his confession and still convicted.
If the police don’t read someone Miranda rights, all that happens is JUST THE STATEMENT the suspect gives can’t be used against him in court. EVERYTHING ELSE still can be!
Also, the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine does not apply to Miranda violations like it does with illegal searches. If a police officer illegally searches a home and finds a bomb, since the search (tree) was illegal (poison), the bomb (fruit of the poison tree) can’t be admitted into evidence. With no bomb – there’s no case.
Not so for Miranda. Assume a police officer questions a suspect without reading Miranda rights. The suspect confesses to having a bomb in his house. The police get a warrant, search the house and find the bomb. While the STATEMENT “I have a bomb in my house” is not admissible in court because of the lack of reading Miranda rights, the BOMB is still admissible. The prosecution proceeds to trial and wins.
Just having detained a terrorist means the police have reasonable suspicion he committed a crime, so they already have some evidence before talking to him. Having arrested the person means they have “probable cause,” so the police likely have even stronger evidence against him before talking to him. All of that evidence obtained before the terrorist gives a statement can still be used against him. All evidence gathered after the confession can be used against him.
If the police don’t read Miranda rights, the law surrounding Miranda rights still works – the confession is inadmissible under the “exclusionary rule.” So who cares if Miranda rights are read or not? It should really be a police call on whether they need a confession or not to gain a conviction.
Also, considering it’s been 44 years since the Supreme Court mandated the reading of Miranda rights, is there anyone who hasn’t learned in school, from newspapers and a million episodes of police movies and TV shows that they have the right to remain silent? Not reading the rights in this day and age seems more of a technicality then a due process right. I bet if you surveyed every arrested person today all of them would know they have the right to remain silent without first telling them.
So on the issue of due process don’t be married to Miranda – she’s a one night stand – and not a very good one.