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Criminal Appellate & Post-Conviction Services

SCOTUS to Hear Michigan Miranda Case

The United Supreme Court has granted certiorari to hear whether police investigators must give a jail inmate his Miranda rights before questioning him on matters unrelated to what landed him behind bars. Howes v. Fields, 10-680. A great summary of the dispute can be found here.

On Monday , the justices said they will hear the Michigan Attorney General’s challenge to a federal court of appeals in favor of Randall Fields. Mr. Fields acknowledged to sheriff’s deputies that he had sexual contact with a minor. The admission took place during an interview in the same building where Fields was jailed on unrelated charges. The deputies never advised Fields he could be silent or have a lawyer, hallmarks of the Miranda warning for criminal suspects. They did tell him he could leave the interrogation room when he wanted.

Scotus: Oral Arguments On Florida v. Powell Look Too Close to Call

Yesterday, I attempted to play “sports commentator” and said that Florida v. Powell. After watching another quarter in the case (oral arguments), I still think it is too close to call. According to SCOTUS blog, it still sounds like a coin toss. Read More...

SCOTUS Hears Arguments on Whether Miranda Requires a Suspect to be Told that Counsel Will be Appointed for Him During Questioning

Today (December 7, 2009), the Court will hear oral arguments in Florida v. Powell, Supreme Court No. 08-1175, dealing with the form of Miranda warnings that must be given by police officers interrogating suspects. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), requires an officer to give three warnings: (a) they have the right to remain silent and that anything the suspects says can and will be used against him/her; (b) that they have the right to the presence of counsel; and, (c) if they cannot afford one, one will be appointed for them. In Powell, the Court will hear whether the effect of failure to give the third warning about appointed counsel which makes it clear that counsel will be appointed for the suspect during questioning. The Florida Attorney General is arguing that because Miranda is “merely a prophylactic rule” such a breach should not warrant exclusion. Read More...

SCOTUS Hears Two Michigan Habeas Cases

The United States Supreme Court has granted certiorari to hear two Michigan habeas corpus cases. In Berghuis v. Smith, the Sixth Circuit ruled that the Michigan Supreme Court acted contrary to clearly established United States Supreme Court law when it rejected a Sixth Amendment challenged the racial composition of Mr. Smith’s jury. The Sixth Circuit held that the jury did not reperesente a fair cross-section utilizing the comparative disparity test for evaluating the difference between the number of African-Americans in the community versus in the the jury selection panel. The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear whether this ruling is erroneous. Berghuis v Smith, Supreme Court No. 08-1402. The case is currently scheduled for oral arguments on January 20, 2010.

In Berghuis v Thompkins, the Court has granted certiorari to determine whether the Sixth Circuit improperly expanded MIranda to prevent an officer from trying to persuade a defendant to cooperate where the officer tried to persuade the defendant to cooperate. The Defendant had been read his MIranda rights and had neither invoked them nor waived them. An ineffective assistance of counsel issue was also presented in the State’s petition for certiorari, but does not appear to be part of the order granting certiorari. An oral argument does not appear to be set in this case. Since cert was granted on the same day as Berghuis v Smith, orals will probably be in late January or early February.

Michigan Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Redd Case On Silence in a Non-Custodial Interview

Anthony Redd was accused of having sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old girl. A jury convicted him of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, but the trial court granted the defendant‟s motion for a new trial because the prosecutor elicited extensive testimony from a police detective that the defendant failed to respond to certain accusations regarding the assault and abruptly left an interview. The Court of Appeals reversed and reinstated the conviction. Did the trial court abuse its discretion when it granted the defendant a new trial? Did the trial court err in admitting the police detective‟s testimony? Did the defendant waive any error when his attorney expressed satisfaction with the trial court‟s instructions to the jury? One of the main issues in Redd is the continuing viability of the Michigan Supreme Court’s 1939 ruling in People v Bigge, 288 Mich 417 (1939) which limited the adverse inferences which could be drawn from a Defendant’s silence. People v Redd, Supreme Court No. 138161.