Mar 02, 2010 Putting a shelf life on Miranda rights
How many Supreme Court justices have been interrogated by police? Probably none. How many have asserted their Miranda rights with the police, only to have the police repeatedly come back to them seeking a reversal of the waiver? Probably fewer. How many of them agree with a shelf-life of fourteen days for an assertion of the right to counsel in the face of police interrogators? Seven, including the so-called more liberal wing justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Breyer. Maryland v. Shatzer, __ U.S. _ (Feb. 24, 2010).
With such an overwhelming majority opinion, Shatzer is likely to have an indelible mark for decades to come, unlike the fourteen-day shelf-life of assertions of the right to counsel in the face of interrogators.
On the one hand, lawyers can try to file pleadings and provide their criminal suspect clients letters that provide the following language suggested by a listserv member (whom I thank deeply):
"I, XXX, hereby assert my Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to remain silent and to have counsel present at any and all of my interactions with the government or others acting on the government’s behalf. I do not wish to, and will not, waive any of my constitutional rights except in the presence of counsel. I do not want the government or others acting on the government’s behalf to question me, or to contact me seeking my waiver of any rights, unless my counsel is present."
On the other hand, what if interrogating police do not give the suspect or defendant access to such documents? Perhaps it is better to tattoo the foregoing paragraph on one’s forearm, or to sing "I assert my right to remain silent" to the tune of another famous Miranda, namely Carmen. Jon Katz