Stories About Miranda
40 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2011
Date Written: August 31, 2004
Two studies of compliance with Miranda v. Arizona were conducted in the 1990s, one by Richard Leo and one by Paul Cassell and Bret Hayman. This essay presents a 2002 study that drew on the Westlaw database to measure Miranda compliance. Drawing a sample of cases from a legal database suffers from distorting effects that are largely absent when one observes police interrogation, as Leo did, or when one observes prosecutors screen cases by questioning police, as Cassell and Hayman did. Nonetheless, the 2002 study confirmed five basic findings of the earlier studies: (1) police almost always give Miranda warnings as required by the Supreme Court’s doctrine; (2) suspects overwhelmingly waive their rights; (3) police usually cease questioning when suspects invoke the right to silence or to counsel; (4) police rarely use overtly coercive tactics to obtain waivers; (5) police rarely use overtly coercive tactics to obtain confessions after suspects have waived their rights. Because this study focused on reported cases, it was also able to assess how prosecutors use the various doctrinal exceptions that were either built into the Miranda opinion or added by later Courts. For example, by its own terms, Miranda applies only to custodial interrogations, and prosecutors often succeed in persuading judges that the police conduct did not entail either custody or interrogation. Less commonly used were later doctrines that permitted statements to be used for impeachment or when obtained in the protection of public safety.
Keywords: Miranda v. Arizona, Miranda warnings, Miranda waiver, Miranda impeachment, public safety, Quarles Harris v. New York, Miranda custody, Miranda interrogation, right to silence, right to counsel
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By Yale Kamisar