Edwards v. Arizona

Edwards v. Arizona Case Brief

United States Supreme Court
451 U.S. 477 (1981)

ISSUE: May the prosecution use a statement D made after he invoked his right to assistance of counsel if the police didn't provide him with counsel and started a second round of questioning?
HOLDING: No.
FACTS:
  • D was charged with robbery, burglary, and murder 1 and was arrested
  • At the station, D was given his rights and said that he wished to proceed
  • D then said that he wanted to make a deal but said he wanted an attorney before making one -- none was given to him
  • The next morning, 2 different officers questioned D after an officer told D that "he had" to talk with them
  • D was given his rights and then made a confession
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
  • D moved to suppress statements as in violation of hisMiranda rights after he invoked right to counsel -- denied
  • AZ Sup. Ct. found that D had invoked his right but then had waived it when he chose to make a statement during the 2nd interrogation
RULES:
  • Miranda v. Arizona: If he requests counsel, the interrogation must cease until an attorney is present.
REASONING:
  • Holding: When an accused has invoked his right to have counsel present during custodial interrogation, a valid waiver of that right cannot be established by showing only that he responded to further police-initiated custodial interrogation even if he has been advised of his rights
    • Also, when an accused has expressed a desire to deal with the police only through counsel, he is not subject to further interrogation by the authorities until counsel has been made available to him
  • Exception: Nothing stops the police from listening to one who voluntarily volunteered statements
  • D's case: The 2nd round of questioning was initiated by the police, and thus his statement did not amount to a waiver of the right to counsel
CONCURRENCE - Burger:
  • Inquiry on the resumption of questioning should be voluntariness
  • The officer telling D that "he had" to talk to the officers was enough to render it involuntary
COMMENTS:
  • When an individual invokes his right to assistance of counsel the interrogation must cease immediately, and she or he cannot be questioned again until counsel is present or the interviewee reinitiates questioning. This means that the Rhode Island v. Innis definition of "interrogation" applies following an Edwards invocation of the right to counsel. Once an individual invokes the right to counsel, she or he cannot be subjected to express questioning or other words or actions that the police should reasonably know are likely to elicit an incriminating response from the individual until counsel is present.
  • Note that the Supreme Court uses the words "until counsel has been made available" as the threshold for when questioning may resume. This phrase was clarified in Minnick v. Mississippi, namely that it means more than the ability to merely consult with an attorney outside the interrogation room. Counsel must be present in the interrogation room with the interviewee during questioning.
  • The Court leaves open the constitutional door for a court to admit a statement made by a suspect when he himself resumes questioning. If someone decides to talk to the police after invoking the right to counsel, nothing stops the statement from being used in the prosecution's case-in-chief so long as the police did not reinitiate (and the statement was "voluntary").

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