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MinDak Hunter

Score one for the good guys!

3 posts in this topic

Associated Press

The Supreme Court has overturned a long-standing ruling that stops police from initiating questions unless a defendant's lawyer is present, a move that will make it easier for prosecutors to interrogate suspects.

The high court, in a 5-4 ruling, overturned the 1986 Michigan v. Jackson ruling, which said police may not initiate questioning of a defendant who has a lawyer or has asked for one unless the attorney is present.

The Michigan ruling applied even to defendants who agree to talk to the authorities without their lawyers.

The court's conservatives overturned that opinion Tuesday, with Justice Antonin Scalia saying "it was poorly reasoned, has created no significant reliance interests and (as we have described) is ultimately unworkable."

Scalia, who read the opinion from the bench, said their decision will have a "minimal" effects on criminal defendants. "Because of the protections created by this court in Miranda and related cases, there is little if any chance that a defendant will be badgered into waiving his right to have counsel present during interrogation," Scalia said.

The Michigan v. Jackson opinion was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, the only current justice who was on the court at the time. He dissented from the ruling, and in an unusual move read his dissent aloud from the bench. It was the first time this term a justice had read a dissent aloud.

"The police interrogation in this case clearly violated petitioner's Sixth Amendment right to counsel," Stevens said. Overruling the Jackson case, he said, "can only diminish the public's confidence in the reliability and fairness of our system of justice."

The decision comes in the case of Jesse Jay Montejo, was found guilty in 2005 of the shooting death of Louis Ferrari in the victim's home on Sept. 5, 2002.

He was appointed a public defender at his Sept. 10, 2002 hearing, but was never indicated that he accepted the lawyer's help. Montejo then went with police detectives to help them look for the murder weapon. While in the car, Montejo wrote a letter to Ferrari's widow incriminating himself.

When they returned to the prison, a public defender was waiting for Montejo, irate that his client had been questioned without him being present.

Montejo was convicted and sentenced to death. He appealed, but the Louisiana Supreme Court upheld the conviction and sentence.

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Mabe they are trying to make up for taking away an officers ability to search a car before impounding it. (drug/open bottle/explosives search)

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How many times have we seen statements and confessions made, then later have the story change after the defendant seeks council. Of coarse the early confessions and statements were not admirable in court.

Here is were things can get sticky.

The first quote you can't ignore. I'm all for allowing statements and confessions that are given freely.

I'm not for interrogations without council present.

"The police interrogation in this case clearly violated petitioner's Sixth Amendment right to counsel," Stevens said. Overruling the Jackson case, he said, "can only diminish the public's confidence in the reliability and fairness of our system of justice."

This statement somewhat addresses those concerns but you'll have to define "interrogation" and "badgered".

"Scalia, who read the opinion from the bench, said their decision will have a "minimal" effects on criminal defendants. "Because of the protections created by this court in Miranda and related cases, there is little if any chance that a defendant will be badgered into waiving his right to have counsel present during interrogation," Scalia said."

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