Supreme Court Issues Ruling, Gutting Miranda Rights And Threatening The Fifth Amendment

On Thursday, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in Vega V Tekoh, a case involving the administration of Miranda rights, with the court ruling that a suspect’s words or statements can be used in court regardless of their Miranda rights

For background, these are the facts of the case in question:

Terence Tekoh worked as a patient transporter in a hospital in Los Angeles. After a patient accused him of sexual assault, hospital staff reported the allegation to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Deputy Carlos Vega went to the hospital to ask Tekoh questions and take Tekoh’s statement. Although the parties described vastly different accounts of the nature of the interaction between Tekoh and Vega, it is undisputed that Vega did not advise Tekoh of his Miranda rights before questioning him or taking his statement.

Tekoh was arrested and charged in California state court, but a jury returned a verdict of not guilty. Following the acquittal on the criminal charge, Tekoh sued Vega, alleging that Vega violated Tekoh’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by taking his statement without first advising him of his Miranda rights.

Justice Samuel Alito issued his ruling, a count of 6-3, deciding that using such statements outside of Miranda rights is not a violation of a defendant’s rights and does not give them the right to sue the court for such use. 

Miranda prescribed a specific and protective set of warnings to ensure that criminally accused suspects were made aware of the Fifth Amendment’s decree that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”  

Miranda is also one of the court’s most culturally famous decisions. Americans know Miranda. More accurately: Americans know their Miranda warnings. Even if they cannot recite the lyrics to the national anthem or the Pledge of Allegiance, they likely can recite Miranda’s warnings: 

  • You have the right to remain silent;
  • Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law;
  • You have the right to a lawyer;
  • If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you.

Generally, if the police obtain a suspect’s statement violating Miranda, the government cannot use that statement against the defendant in court. 

But can the defendant later sue the police for violating the defendant’s constitutional rights? 

The Supreme Court now says, No. 

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Jan 6 Chairman Bennie Thompson says using the 5th Amendment implies guilt

Representative Bennie Thompson, who is the chairman of the January 6 committee in the US House of Representatives, said on Thursday that when a defendant uses their right to remain silent under the 5th Amendment, “in some instances, that says you are part and parcel guilty to what occurred.”

Thompson made the remarks to Rachel Maddow, who said it was “a fascinating pivot point in this investigation.” Thompson’s belief that a defendant’s use of their 5th Amendment rights infers guilt upon that person is not upheld by the Supreme Court.

In Griffin v. California in 1965, the Supreme Court upheld that if a defendant uses their 5th Amendment right to not incriminate themselves, neither the state, nor judge, may use the use of that right to tell the jury that silence is evidence of guilt.

Thompson, from his position as chairman of the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s special committee on the events of January 6th, has no basis to make this claim and this claim could indicate that the committee is already biased against those they have subpoenaed in their case. Pelosi alone appointed all members of the committee without input from the minority leader Kevin McCarthy.

Thompson made the remarks as the committee has issued subpoenas to more and more people who the committee believes is responsible for what they have termed an “insurrection” on January 6, when some Trump supporters left a rally at the ellipse in Washington, DC, and went to the Capitol.

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This Forfeiture Victim Waited 2 Years Without a Hearing. Is That Due Process?

Civil asset forfeiture laws, which allow the government to seize property allegedly tainted by crime without ever charging the owner, are fundamentally rigged in favor of the law enforcement agencies that get a cut of the proceeds. Even when an owner manages to challenge a forfeiture by arguing that he was not involved in any criminal activity, he has the burden of proving his innocence, and the process often costs more than the property is worth. Adding insult to injury, the government can drag out the process for so long that even innocent owners feel compelled to surrender. The Institute for Justice (I.J.) challenges that aspect of civil forfeiture in an appeal it filed this week, asking the Supreme Court to rule that due process requires a prompt post-seizure hearing.

Early civil forfeiture laws in the United States recognized the importance of that safeguard. The Collections Act of 1789, I.J. notes, required a hearing within 14 days after the government filed its forfeiture complaint, which was supposed to happen shortly after the seizure. A decade later, Congress amended the law to emphasize that forfeiture suits must be commenced “without delay.” Nowadays, by contrast, property owners routinely wait months or years before they get a chance to challenge a seizure before a neutral adjudicator.

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