Saturday, June 5, 2010

Remaining Silent

Well, the U.S. Supreme Court did it again. In the case of BERGHUIS v. THOMPKINS, they held that a person can't invoke his right against self-incrimination, the famous "right to remain silent," by, in fact, remaining silent.

In this case, a defendant was interrogated for several hours, during which time he said nothing. He literally remained silent, just as the Miranda warnings he was read told him he could. As the interrogators were leaving the room, one of them asked if he believed in god, and when he said 'yes' asked him if he would pray for god's forgiveness. It was disputed whether the suspect replied, but the interrogator testified that he said 'yes' and that was deemed to be an admission of guilt.

In addition to the nonsensical ruling on the right to remain silent, I find it offensive that police interrogators are permitted to prey on a suspect's religious beliefs in order to psychologically put the suspect in a frame of mind to confess. Such confessions are as coerced, in my opinion, as those obtained by beating the confession out of the suspect.

This one, they got wrong.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Supreme Court Decisions Have Consequences

Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a case out of Georgia, that it was reasonable for a police officer to ram a motorist being chased for a traffic violation. The motorist lost control of his vehicle and was seriously injured. Since the Supreme Court held that the officer's actions were reasonable, the motorist was denied any recompense due to the doctrine of qualified immunity.

Recently, I have been observing that many police vehicles now come equipped with front bumper extensions that are apparently designed to aid the driver of the police vehicle in ramming operations. I guess that, since the Supreme Court says it's ok, they want to be able to ram with impunity without damaging their police cruiser.

Someday, some happy day, the justices of the Supreme Court will realize that there are ramifications to the decisions they make. Or perhaps we will wise up and start electing presidents and senators who will appoint justices to the Court who come from a more "common" background.

Just one lawyer's opinion.