The 50th anniversary of one of the most famous arrests in American history is happening in March. On March 13th, 1963, Ernesto Miranda was arrested for rape, kidnapping and robbery in Phoenix without being informed of any of his rights. That led to a United States Supreme Court ruling requiring all being arrested to be read their “Miranda Rights.” Arizona State University adjunct law professor Gary Stuart, who’s written a book about the case, will talk about the history of the Miranda Warning.
Ted Simons: 50 years ago on March 13,1963 , Ernesto Miranda was arrested for rape, kidnapping and robbery in Phoenix. At the time of his arrest Miranda was not informed of his rights. The arrest led to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that led to what are now well known as Miranda rights. Joining us now is ASU adjunct law professor Gary Stuart who has written a book about the Miranda case and its implications. Good to see you again.
Gary Stuart: nice to see you, Ted.
Ted Simons: we wanted to get you because of the 50 anniversary next week. Who was Ernesto Miranda?
Gary Stuart: He was a young man that lived in Mesa not far from here. He committed three crimes in downtown Phoenix, two in downtown Phoenix, one not far from here. It was described as east of Phoenix. 20th street and Bethany home.
Ted Simons: a lot of arrests over a lot of years. Why did this one wind up going to the U.S. Supreme Court? No rights read to him. This one stuck whereas so many may not have. What happened?
Gary Stuart: Up to the year prior to this, in 1962 it was always the law that suspects had the right to remain silent, they had a right to a lawyer, they had a right to not be interrogated if they didn't want to be interrogated, but the problem was of course most people didn't know that. A lot of people didn't know that. Suspects didn't know that. So the Supreme Court was actively looking for a case, looking for a case in which there was no doubt about guilt, and a case in which rights clearly were not warned of, and that didn't fit this norm. They are looking for that case. This one they found.
Ted Simons: They found this case and Ernesto Miranda, did he cooperate with the case? Did he have any idea what was going on? What was his part in all this?
Gary Stuart: Well, Miranda was arrested by a Phoenix cop, named Carroll Cooley, was a good cop then. He's retired now but still around, still doing well. When Carroll arrested Miranda, he thought Miranda looked as he put it good for this crime. He fit the profile but he didn't have any evidence whatsoever to connect Miranda to the crime. But he arrested him on suspicion. In those days that was enough, but didn't formally put him on arrest he said will you come down and talk to us, and he did. They had a very short lineup, lasted less than a minute. They had two of the victims in the police station, neither of these victims could pick out Miranda. He looked like he might have been the guy, but it was dark and they couldn't pick him out very well. But when detective Cooley went back in to talk to Miranda, he asked the wrong questions. He said, how did I do?
Ted Simons: Oh, boy.
Gary Stuart: the detective said, well, not so good. I don't think that's very good, Ernie. Maybe you just better tell me what happened. So Ernie did. He wrote it out in long hand and confessed. That confession became the only document in the trial. It was the only thing that convicted him. He was convicted not on forensic evidence or eyewitness testimony or anything else but was convicted because he didn't know he had any rights.
Ted Simons: So the case is -- who led the charge on this case and basically -- was it a surprise at the time that it went as far as it did? You said the Supreme Court was looking for something like this. Apparently not, huh?
Gary Stuart: The prior year they came down with Gideon versus Wainwright. Gideon versus Wainwright they held that anybody that wanted a lawyer an made that clear to the cops was entitled to a lawyer, entitled to invoke his right to remain silent, but you had to ask for it. So they were looking for a case in which the suspect didn't ask for it and didn't know enough to ask for it but nonetheless was clearly guilty of the crime with which he was charged. Miranda fit all those parameters, so they selected Miranda among many other possible cases. In part, I believe, because John P. frank was Miranda's lawyer. John P. frank was a nationally known constitutional lawyer. He was a law clerk for Justice Hugo black on the Supreme Court. This was the right case for him the right case fort court at the right time.
Ted Simons: when it came before the court, what were the challenges? What were the discussions here? The arguments for and against?
Gary Stuart: The arguments for it is that the realty of custodial interrogation in a fair number of places in America was the sole investigation. Crimes were investigated by interrogating and nothing else. In those environments custodial interrogation, often resulted in a quick, easy confession because suspects did not know that they had rights. So they are looking for a way to convey these rights, to expand the rights. They had the right mix of facts and law and circumstances in the Miranda case.
Ted Simons: was there much argument against?
Gary Stuart: There was strong argument against it. No one -- the real issue was not do you have these rights, the real issue was who is going to tell you that you have these rights. It couldn't be a lawyer because lawyers are not involved in the proceedings at this early investigative stage. Couldn't be a judge because judges are not involved until after charges are brought. So that leaves only police officers. There was enormous opposition to the fact that a police officer would now be responsible for warning people about this and warning them that if they did not want to be interrogated they could quit. If they didn't have a lawyer one would be appointed for them. Most importantly they had a right to remain silent. That became a police obligation after Miranda.
Ted Simons: With that, last question, what is the impact on law enforcement of the Miranda warning? We have seen dragnet, the TV shows where they read the warnings. I can see where that argument against probably did have a lot of weight to it. Talk about the impact afterwards.
Gary Stuart: It did certainly in the 50's and 60's. It lost a lot of steam in the 70's are, and by the 80's is this is the most widely accepted positive thing for police officers. If the police officer wants to get the confession that he is about to take in evidence the best way to do that is to give the suspect his Miranda rights. Many of them in large numbers waived those rights for all kinds of reasons but they waive those rights. Once that happens, if the warnings are properly given at the right time under the right circumstances, these confessions become Miranda compliant. That becomes a way to get that confession into evidence. Police officers are now by and large very much in favor of this.
Ted Simons: Isn't that something. Gary, it is always a pleasure. Thank you for joining us.
Gary Stuart: Thanks for having me.
Gary Stuart:Adjunct Law Professor, Arizona State University;