High Court Begins Docket With 2 Mirandas, 3 Banks

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The U.S. Supreme Court, which begins hearing arguments tomorrow in its 2003-04 term, once again will examine aspects of the Miranda rule. The New York Times says that two cases to be argued Dec. 9 involve police failure to give suspects required warnings. The cases raise questions about common interrogation tactics and about the scope of the court’s decision three years ago that reaffirmed and strengthened the Miranda precedent.

One case, Missouri v. Seibert, No. 02-371, examines an increasingly popular tactic: police police first get a statement without Miranda warnings and then administer the warnings and obtain a confession. The issue is whether such a confession, even if preceded by a suspect’s “voluntary” waiver of Miranda rights, can be used as evidence when the failure to give warnings was deliberate.

The other case, United States v. Patane, No. 02-1183, is whether physical evidence discovered after a Miranda violation, a gun in this case, can be introduced at trial. Earlier decisions permitted this type of evidence, but lower courts are finding those decisions questionable in light of the justices’ clarification that Miranda warnings are constitutionally required rather than just a “prophylactic” device to safeguard the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination.

By coincidence, three cases involve defendants named Banks. In Banks v. Dretke, No. 02-8286, to be argued on Dec. 8, Texas death row inmate Delma Banks Jr., who came within 10 minutes of execution last March, is raising issues of prosecutorial misconduct and defense inadequacy. The question in United States v. Banks, No. 02-473, to be argued Oct. 15, is whether federal agents violated Lashawn L. Banks’s rights by breaking into his apartment to seek drugs 20 seconds after knocking on the door. Beard v. Banks, No. 02-1603, is an effort by Pennsylvania to reinstate a death sentence for George E. Banks, convicted of multiple murders 20 years ago.

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/06/national/06SCOT.html?hp

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