Berghuis v. Thompkins

Berghuis v. Thompkins Case Brief

United States Supreme Court
130 S. Ct. 2250 (2010)

ISSUE: Are police required to obtain an express waiver of the right to remain silent as a necessary precondition to the admissibility of uncoerced statements if the suspect was given his Miranda rights and understands them?
HOLDING: No, a suspect who has received and understands his Miranda rights and has not invoked these rights waives the right to remain silent by making an uncoerced statement to the police.
FACTS:
  • Thompkins was a suspect in a shooting outside a mall where one person died and another was injured
  • D fled to Ohio were he was arrested; 2 officers from Michigan traveled to Ohio to interrogate D
  • D was given a rights form, read it aloud, and then the officer read it to him; D refused to sign a waiver
  • After 2.75 hours, an officer asked D, "Do you pray to God to forgive you for shooting that boy down?" D said, "Yes."
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
  • D moved to suppress, arguing that he invoked his 5th Amdt. right to remain silent -- denied
  • Dist. Ct. rejected his Miranda and ineffective-assistance claims in a habeas petition, reasoning that D didn't invoke his rights
  • Ct. App. reversed holding that D's silence for 2.75 hours showed that he didn't intend to waive his rights
REASONING:
  • No invocation of silence: D did not invoke his right to remain silent by not saying anything for 2.75 hours
    • There is no principled reason to adopt different standards for determining when an accused has invoked the Miranda right to remain silent and the Miranda right to counsel (import Davisunambiguous and unequivocal standard)
      = right to remain silent must be unambiguously and unequivocally invoked
    • Don't want to hinder society's interest in prosecuting criminal activity
  • No waiver of right to silence: Where the prosecution shows that Miranda warnings have been given and that they were understood by the suspect, a suspect's uncoerced statement establishes an implied waiver of the right to remain silent
    • Miranda + understand = implied waiver
    • Law can presume that an individual who, fully understanding his rights and acts in a manner inconsistent with those rights, has made a deliberate choice to relinquish those rights
    • No showing that D didn't understand his rights as he read them and they were read to him
    • No showing of coercion by asking D about his religious beliefs
  • No express waiver neededButler rejected the proposition that the police need obtain an express waiver of one's Miranda rights before proceeding with interrogation
    • Miranda only requires that a suspect be given his warnings, understand them, and then have an opportunity to invoke them
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