Miranda in Maryland – Part II

by Professor Byron L. Warnken on November 16, 2010

Continued from Part I – Here.

III.       Compliance with Miranda

A.        What constitutes a proper Warning?

Another recent Maryland case addresses whether police have complied with Miranda.  In State v. Luckett,[i] the Court of Appeals analyzed whether a police officer’s recitation of Miranda properly informed the Defendant of his privilege against self-incrimination.  Although the Supreme Court has not “dictated the words in which the essential information must be conveyed,”[ii] the Miranda warning given by police must “reasonably conve[y] to [a suspect] his rights as required by Miranda.”[iii] In Luckett, the Defendant killed his wife and his son’s football coach, believing that the two were having an affair.[iv] After the murders, Defendant tried to kill himself.[v] The police visited the Defendant in the hospital three times, and found the Defendant willing to talk on each occasion.[vi]

Defendant spoke to the officer who accompanied the Defendant to the hospital after Defendant’s attempted suicide.[vii] Defendant stated that he had not meant to shoot his wife, but had meant to shoot his son’s football coach.[viii] The court found that the first statement was admissible because Defendant was not being interrogated.[ix] The police spoke with the Defendant again after the morning after the suicide attempt.  An officer read the Defendant his Miranda rights from a small card that the officer carried in his wallet, and the Defendant then gave inculpatory statements.  The Court of Appeals, although concerned about the Defendant’s lucidity at the time of the statements, deferred to the trial court’s determination that the Defendant had freely and voluntarily waived Miranda on that occasion.[x]

Later, an officer brought audio and video recording equipment to the Defendant’s room in order to obtain another statement.  In reading the Defendant his rights under Miranda, the officer made several comments that were legally incorrect.  The officer suggested that the Miranda warning only applied to statements made about the criminal case, and stated several times that the Defendant “[didn’t] need a lawyer.”[xi] The court held that, although the officer had given the Miranda warnings, the officer’s “clarifications and explanations” of that warning “nullified what otherwise were proper warnings, and rendered the Miranda advisement constitutionally defective.”[xii]

The Court of Appeals identified two problems with the Miranda warnings that the officer gave.  First, the officer suggested that the Miranda warnings applied only to statements made about the criminal case, while in fact, “anything [the Defendant] said during the interrogation could incriminate him.”[xiii] Second, the court took issue with the officer’s statement that the Defendant “[didn’t] need a lawyer.”[xiv] The Court of Appeals noted that the trial court, in addressing the issue, stated, “[the officer’s] statement ‘you don’t need a lawyer’ is not a correct recitation of the law and should never be spoken by any law enforcement officer to a person in custody under any circumstances.”[xv] The Court of Appeals stated that “no officer advising a suspect of his rights under Miranda should intimate, much less declare affirmatively, a limitation upon the right to counsel,” and that the officer’s legally incorrect Miranda warning “rendered the advisement constitutionally infirm.”[xvi] The court found that the Defendant’s statement was not voluntarily given due to the incorrect Miranda warning.

IV.       Multiple Interrogations Create Additional Legal Issues:

A.        Breaks in an interrogation may, under some circumstances, require officers to repeat Miranda warnings

In Pryor, supra, the defendant also challenged the validity of his second full confession to police, which occurred because the recording equipment had failed to record his initial statement. As noted above, after Pryor’s arrest he waived Miranda and provided an incriminating statement 40 minutes after the interrogation began. Thereafter, the officers took a break from the interrogation to ensure that the recording equipment had not malfunctioned and, after learning that the confession was not recorded, returned to the interrogation room. When they returned, they asked the suspect to confess a second time, which he did. On appeal, however, Pryor asserted that the statement should be inadmissible because he was not re-advised of Miranda prior to the redundant confession.

“In determining whether a defendant should have been re-advised [of his Miranda rights during a break between interviews,] courts look to the totality of the circumstances.”[xvii] A non-exhaustive list of factors include: (1) the length of time between the giving of the first warnings and the subsequent interrogation …; (2) whether the warnings and the subsequent interrogation were given in the same or different places …; (3) whether the warnings were given and the subsequent interrogation conducted by the same or different officers …; (4) the extent to which the subsequent statement differed from any previous statements …; (5) the apparent intellectual and emotional state of the suspect.[xviii]

Under the facts of the case, the Court determined that a second Miranda advisement was unnecessary. The Court noted that Pryor waived Miranda and gave a statement during a 40 minute interview and, after a 10 minute break, he repeated his confession. The Court held that the overall brevity of the encounter and the shortness of the break compelled the conclusion that the suspect did not have to be re-advised of his rights.[xix] Moreover, the Court also noted that the two statements took place in the same room, in the presence of the same detectives, and that the statements were generally identical. Moreover, between the statements, the suspect remained coherent and there was no significant change in his emotional or mental state.

B.        Invocation of Miranda does not last forever.

In 1981, the Supreme Court ruled in Edwards v. Arizona,[xx] that police must respect a suspect’s invocation of their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and they cannot attempt to persuade a suspect to change their mind. Therefore, under Edwards, the police must terminate an interrogation after the suspect invokes their right to remain silent until the suspect meets with an attorney, unless the suspect independently reinitiates the questioning on his own accord.

However, in Maryland v. Shatzer,[xxi] the Supreme Court addressed whether the Edwards rule continues to apply even after the suspect has been released from custody and is then subsequently rearrested. The question, therefore, is whether officers must honor the prior invocation, which applies only when the subject is in custody, after the suspect is released from custody (thereby rendering Miranda inapplicable) and then is later rearrested. In other words, Shatzer addressed whether a break in custody “resets the clock” on the suspect’s earlier invocation of his Miranda rights.

Answering the question in the affirmative, Shatzer held that police are free to reinitiate discussions with a suspect who previously invoked his rights under Miranda, was released for a period of 14 days, and was then rearrested. The Court explained its reasoning for arbitrarily choosing a period of fourteen days, stating that it “provides plenty of time for the suspect to get reacclimated to his normal life, to consult with friends and counsel, and to shake off any residual coercive effects of his prior custody.”[xxii] The Court noted, however, that after the 14 day period, the officers must again re-Mirandize the suspect and the State would bear the burden of establishing a knowing and intelligent waiver of the defendant’s Miranda rights.

(footnotes available upon request.)

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