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U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Expand Miranda Protections for Prisoners


(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a Sixth Circuit decision expanding Miranda rights for prisoners.  Attorney General Mike DeWine participated in the case, filing an amicus brief in support of the State of Michigan.

“The Sixth Circuit’s opinion created artificial and unworkable distinctions in Miranda jurisprudence, and it afforded greater rights to prisoners than to other citizens,” said Attorney General DeWine. “We are pleased that the Supreme Court restored the Miranda rule to its proper foundation.”

Under the 1966 landmark decision in Miranda v. Arizona, police officers must inform a suspect that he has “the right to remain silent” and “the right to an attorney” if officers take him into custody.  The Supreme Court has made clear, however, that Miranda warnings are not required when the suspect understands that he may end the conversation and leave the police station.

In 2010, the Sixth Circuit greatly expanded Miranda protections for prisoners.  Police interviewed a Michigan inmate about the sexual assault of a 12-year-old boy.  Although police informed the prisoner that he could end the interview and return to his cell at any time, the Sixth Circuit held that the prisoner was entitled to Miranda warnings and threw out his child-sex-abuse convictions

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.  DeWine filed an amicus brief on Schuette’s behalf, urging the Court to reverse the Sixth Circuit.  Thirty-five other attorneys general joined DeWine’s brief.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion this morning.  By a vote of 6-3, the justices reversed the Sixth Circuit:

“Isolation from the general prison population is often in the best interest of the interviewee and, in any event, does not suggest on its own the atmosphere of coercion that concerned the Court in Miranda,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito.  The prisoner in this case “was told at the outset of the interrogation, and was reminded again thereafter, that he could leave and go back to his cell whenever he wanted.”



Copy of the Supreme Court’s Decision (PDF)
Copy of Attorney General DeWine’s Brief (PDF)

Media Contacts

Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3840
Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840

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