Thursday, September 29, 2005

Maryland v. Blake

I have posted about this case several times before (but I can't find the posts, because the google 'search this blog' feature is turning up nothing. Liars.) This case caught my attention when it was appealed to the MD Supreme Court, and it retains my attention for a different, even more compelling, reason.

The question in the case is whether, after a suspect invokes his Fifth Amendment right to counsel, in custody and under interrogation, police officers can continue to question him (including threatening the death penalty, for which he was not eligible at the time because he was a juvenile) and use the resulting confession as evidence?

The petitioner's (Maryland's) brief, in its facts, mentions the line, "I bet you want to talk now, huh?" but, in what I believe is not such a smooth move, leaves out the this was uttered by the detective because a document listing the charges and DEATH PENALTY were placed in front of Blake. As far as I can tell, Blake asks a few minutes later whether he can still speak to the cops.

The bright line rule set forth in Edwards is that once the suspect has invoked his 5th Amendment right to counsel, all interrogation must cease until the suspect has consulted with counsel OR the suspect seeks out and initiates contact with police. Interrogation includes any behavior designed to incite the suspect to act.

Blake looks like an open and shut 5th Amendment case. Blake wins. Maryland loses. The reason that this is my flagship case of the 2005-2006 Supreme Court term is because I want to know:

Why the hell did the Supreme Court take this case?

Is anyone else alarmed about what this means for Miranda? Particularly in light of the new changes on the Supreme Court? Roberts wasn't on the Court that decided Dickerson. And as many critics have pointed out, just because he 'has no quarrel' with a decision, or believes that a decision is 'entitled to deference' as settled law, doesn't mean that he won't start tearing shit up when he gets there.

The respondent's brief has not yet been filed, but the petitioner's brief and petitioner's reply brief are posted. The case is scheduled to be argued on November 1.


Melissa said...

uh oh . . . . . .

carpundit said...

I think there is virtually no chance of Miranda's being overturned. It is now settled law, as Dickerson made clear.

The issue here is whether the police can cure an Edwards violation. I hope the answer is yes, and I think this defendant should be held to his confession, but I'm sure we differ on that point.

Don't worry about Miranda, though. It isn't going anywhere.