I challenge anyone to remember what they were doing Fifty-three years ago today on 13 June 1966. I remember vividly and here is the reason why. I was a young Chicago Cop just home from the Marine Corps. I reported for my 3 to 11 shift in the Gresham district on Chicago's far Southside. Roll calls were a routine and up until the Watch Captain finished calling the roll, it was just another day before patrol started. It was with an even rather high pitched voice that he announced that Law Enforcement in America as we knew it, has changed forever. He stated that just a while ago he was informed that the United States Supreme Court had ruled that Law Enforcement Officers in the United States had to inform criminal suspects of their constitutional rights prior to questioning. As the seconds ticked by, 30 to 35 minds began to soak in the ramifications of what we just heard. It was as if the sky opened up and tons of manure rained down from the heavens onto us "poor cops." To say that the decision turned Law Enforcement upside down would be an understatement at that time. The Miranda warnings on that day 53 years ago was now the beginning of one of the biggest parts of our profession.
The case had a significant impact on all of Law Enforcement in the United States by making what is now known as The Miranda warnings part of routine police procedure to ensure that suspects were informed of their rights. The Miranda warning (often shortened to Miranda or Mirandizing) a suspect, is the name of the formality that is required to be given to criminal suspects in police custody (or a custodial situation) before they are interrogated. I am aware that most of you are well acquainted with the Miranda warnings, hell, every Hollywood actor and beyond probably knows them better them some cops. I'm sure, and hopefully so, that 99% of you never got to hear them in a formal setting. But they are a constitutional right. What I'm trying to get across is what those of us at the time felt. It was quite an experience.
Ernesto Miranda was arrested for the rape and kidnapping of an 18-year-old woman in Phoenix Arizona. Before being presented with the form on which he was asked to write out the confession he gave orally, he was not advised of his right to remain silent, nor was he informed that his statement during interrogation would be used against him. Miranda was found guilty and sentenced to 20 to 30 years of imprisonment on each charge to be served concurrently. At his trial, his little known Lawyer, Alvin Moore objected that the confession was not truly voluntary and should be excluded. The case then went to the Arizona Supreme Court who upheld Miranda's conviction. Not to be deterred old Alvin appealed to the United States Supreme. And on June 13, 1966, in a stunning landmark decision, the high court ruled 5 to 4 in Miranda's favor.
The ruling was made clear by the High Court, the person in custody prior to interrogation is to be clearly informed that he or she has the right to remain silent and that anything they say will be held against them in court. They must be clearly informed that he or she has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer present during any interrogation, and if they are indigent a lawyer will be appointed to represent them. The high court went even further and also made it clear that individuals who indicate in any manner at any time during questioning that he or she wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease. If at any time he or she states they want an attorney the interrogation will cease until an attorney is present and at that time the individual must be given the opportunity to confer with the attorney and have him present during any subsequent questioning. Man, you would not believe the impact on those of us who had prior experience being cops before this ruling.
The Miranda warnings were such a part of our lives from that day on. Lots of cops had them sewn into their hats, we all were equipped with cards that had the warnings on them. Some cops memorized them. However, it didn't take long before the reality set in and now they are as common as looking at those I Phones. As far as old Ernesto Miranda went, after he won his historic case, possibly the biggest one in American history, he was simply rearrested and charged again without the confession being used. He was again found guilty and went back to prison. Upon his release, he made a modest living as a minor celebrity, even signing his autograph on the Miranda warnings that cops carried. In 1976 Ernesto Miranda was stabbed to death in an argument in a bar. His assailant was read his Miranda rights and soon after was released for lack of solid proof.
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