- Law Changes
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June 1, 2010: The United States Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that a Michigan defendant gave up his right to silence by saying one word after practically three hours of questioning. The defendant had incriminated himself during this process. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority,” Where the prosecution shows that a Miranda warning (Miranda v Arizona 1966) was given and that it was understood by the accused, an accused’s uncoerced statement establishes an implied waiver of the right to remain silent.”
New Justice, Sona Sotomayor dissented vigorously writing, “Today’s decision turns Miranda upside down… Criminal suspects must now unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent – which, counter-intuitively, requires them to speak. At the same time, suspects will be legally presumed to have waived their rights even if they have given no clear expression of their intent to do so.”
The particulars of the case indicates that the suspect, Van Chester Thompkins was read his rights, he was then asked to recite the rights back to the officer which he did. The officers persisted with nearly a three-hour primarily a monologue of the incident, the murder of Samuel Morris outside a strip mall in Southfield, Michigan. The officer then asked the defendant if he believed in God. The officer then asked “Do you pray to God to forgive you for shooting that boy down?” The defendant, Thompkins replied, “Yes” and looked the other way.
Suspects must now not only request an attorney, they must now invoke their right to silence if they choose to halt the interrogation process. The interpretation of the law continues to require police to offer the accused the Miranda warning i.e. “read them their rights”.