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NCJ Number: 135600 Find in a Library
Title: Miranda, Minnick, and the Morality of Confessions
Journal: American Journal of Criminal Law  Volume:19  Issue:1  Dated:(Fall 1991)  Pages:1-34
Author(s): I M Rosenberg; Y L Rosenberg
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 34
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article disputes the assumption that confessions are both ethical and essential and suggests that the use of confessions is tolerable only when limited by strict safeguards.
Abstract: The U.S. Supreme Court has constricted almost every aspect of the Miranda decision. The case of Edwards v. Arizona, however, is a notable exception; it prohibited police-initiated dialogue about the crime after a suspect advised of Miranda rights invoked the right to counsel. In the Minnick case, the defendant was advised of his Miranda rights, but refused to sign a waiver form. Nonetheless, Minnick gave Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents mitigating information and then told them to come back later when he would have a lawyer. Minnick also provided inculpatory details about the homicide to a deputy sheriff after he had been advised of his Miranda rights and after refusing to sign a waiver form. The trial excluded the defendant's statement to FBI agents, but admitted into evidence his statement to the deputy sheriff. Minnick was convicted and sentenced to death, but the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the conviction based on the defendant's fifth amendment claim. Various court cases, including Minnick, lead the authors to conclude that out-of-court confessions made to government officials during custodial interrogation are suspect. While some people confess out of guilt and as an act of contrition, this is not likely the case with those who have invoked their right to counsel. Most people are afraid of punishment and assert their rights because they do not want to assist the government in its imposition. If inculpatory statements made in custody are presumptively coerced, it makes sense to enforce per se rules regarding the taking of confessions. Anything other than per se rules cannot protect the fifth amendment right to counsel. 171 footnotes
Main Term(s): Confessions
Index Term(s): Miranda rights; Right to counsel; US Supreme Court decisions; Waiver of rights
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