The Miranda App: Metaphor and Machine

59 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2017 Last revised: 9 Jun 2017

See all articles by Andrew Guthrie Ferguson

Andrew Guthrie Ferguson

American University Washington College of Law; University of the District of Columbia - David A. Clarke School of Law

Richard A. Leo

University of San Francisco

Date Written: December 1, 2016


For fifty years, the core problem that gave rise to Miranda – namely, the coercive pressure of custodial interrogation – has remained largely unchanged. This article proposes bringing Miranda into the twenty-first century by developing a “Miranda App” to replace the existing, human Miranda warnings and waiver process with a digital, scripted computer program of videos, text, and comprehension assessments. The Miranda App would provide constitutionally adequate warnings, clarifying answers, contextual information, and age-appropriate instruction to suspects before interrogation. Designed by legal scholars, validated by social science experts, and tested by police, the Miranda App would address several decades of unsatisfactory Miranda process. The goal is not simply to invent a better process for informing suspects of their Miranda rights, but to use the design process itself to study what has failed in past practice. In the article, the authors summarize the problems with Miranda doctrine and practice and describe the Miranda App's design components. The article explains how the App will address many of the problems with Miranda practice in law enforcement. By removing the core problem with Miranda – police control over the administration of warnings and the elicitation of Miranda waiver and non-waivers – the authors argue that the criminal justice system can improve Miranda practice by bringing it into the digital age.

Keywords: Miranda v. Arizona, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Police Interrogation, Law Enforcement, Criminal Justice, Miranda App

Suggested Citation

Ferguson, Andrew Guthrie and Leo, Richard A., The Miranda App: Metaphor and Machine (December 1, 2016). 97 Boston University Law Review 935 (2017)., Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2017-04, Available at SSRN:

Andrew Guthrie Ferguson

American University Washington College of Law ( email )

4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

University of the District of Columbia - David A. Clarke School of Law ( email )

4200 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20008
United States

Richard A. Leo (Contact Author)

University of San Francisco ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States

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