Minnick v. Mississippi

Minnick v. Mississippi Case Brief

United States Supreme Court
498 U.S. 146 (1990)

ISSUE: Is it necessary for police to refrain from questioning a D if he has invoked his right to counsel and did in fact consult with counsel but counsel was not present in the interrogation room?
HOLDING: Yes.
FACTS:
  • D and a fellow prisoner escaped from prison and a day later broke into a mobile home in search of weapons
  • When the owner came home, the 2 used the weapons to kill the owner and another person. They then bound 2 women who also arrived at the mobile home
  • After fleeing to Mexico, D went to California where he was arrested
  • D was given his forced to attend an interrogation with local police and given his rights; D when said to "Come back Monday when I have a lawyer"
  • D consulted with a lawyer 2-3 times and then was forced to speak with a sheriff from Miss., was given his rights, and then made a full confession
PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
  • Trial Ct. denied motion to suppress as to the statements made to the sheriff but suppressed all the others
  • Convicted of 2 counts of capital murder
REASONING:
  • Counsel must be present: Requirement in Edwards that counsel be "made available" refers to more than an opportunity to consult with an attorney outside the interrogation room
    • Cases following Edwards show that authorities may not initiate questioning of the accused in counsel's absence
  • Holding: When counsel is requested, interrogation must cease, and officials may not reinitiate interrogation without counsel present, whether or not the accused has consulted with his attorney
    • A single consultation does not remove the coercive pressures that accompany custody
    • Right to consult counsel prior to questioning also comprehends a right to have counsel present during any questioning
    • Exception: Consistent with Edwards, a D may still initiate a conversation himself
COMMENTS:
  • Minnick clarifies the Edwards v. Arizona requirement that counsel "be made available" before custodial interrogation may resume following an invocation of the right to counsel under Miranda v. Arizona. The law is now clear: if a suspect invokes his right to counsel in a Miranda setting, counsel must be present in the interrogation room in order for questioning to resume (unless the suspect himself resumes questioning, of course). If a suspect merely consults with counsel outside the interrogation room, that's not sufficient. The Miranda right to counsel during custodial interrogation is meant to provide a buffer between the suspect and the police, and so that buffer needs to be present when the questioning actually occurs.
NOTES:
  • Arizona v. Roberson: A suspect who asserts his right to counsel after being given his Miranda rights as to one offense may not be questioned about a separate offense unless the suspect initiates further exchanges with the police
    • It doesn't matter that a subsequent officer doesn't know that D made a request for counsel during the first interrogation.

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