Police officers cannot be prosecuted for Miranda violations, Supreme Court rules

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In a second case, the court favored a prisoner sentenced to death, who sought to be executed by firing squad rather than by lethal injection.

A Capitol police officer holds his hand near his gun as he works by anti-scalding fencing outside the Supreme Court Thursday, June 23, in Washington. Jacqueline Martin / AP Photo

Washington – Supreme Court ruled on Thursday Police officers cannot be prosecuted under federal civil rights law for failing to administer the familiar warning required by the court’s 1966 decision miranda vs arizona, The vote was 6-3, with the justices divided on ideological grounds.

In another case, the court ruled That a prisoner sentenced to death in Georgia could enforce equal civil rights law to be executed by firing squad instead of by lethal injection. The vote was 5–4, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh joining three liberal members of the court to form the majority.

The case on the Miranda warnings reflects the disputed status of the decision. Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said the ruling had declared something less than a constitutional right.

The case, Vega v. Tekoh, by Terence B., a hospital attendant. Tekoh, who was accused of sexually abusing a stable patient who received an emergency MRI scan. Tekoh was questioned at length by Deputy Sheriff Carlos Vega in Los Angeles.

The two men offered different accounts of the nature of the interrogation, but there was no contention that Vega had not warned Miranda, that Tekoh signed a confession admitting the attack, that a state trial judge accepted his confession in evidence or that a jury acquitted him.

Tekoh then filed suit against Vega under a civil rights law known as Section 1983Which allows citizens to prosecute state officials, including police officers, for violations of constitutional rights.

Alito wrote that the remedy for violating Miranda’s decision was the exclusion of statements from defendants in their criminal trials. The decision, he wrote, did not establish the kind of constitutional right that could be upheld by a trial under Section 1983.

Alito acknowledged that the Miranda rights had constitutional roots. But he wrote that “Violating Miranda does not necessarily violate the Constitution.”

“Miranda rests on a practical decision of what is necessary to prevent infringement in the Fifth Amendment lawsuit against forced self-incrimination,” Alito wrote. “That prophylactic purpose is served by suppression in the examination of statements received in violation of Miranda.”

He added: “Allowing the victim of a Miranda violation to sue a police officer for damages under Section 1983 would have little added deterrent value, and allowing such claims would create many problems.”

Roberts and Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Connie Barrett joined the majority opinion.

In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that the Supreme Court had repeatedly and vehemently held that Miranda had established a constitutional right. This means, he wrote, that officers who violate it should be subject to prosecutions under Section 1983.

“Today,” she wrote, “the court strips individuals of the ability to seek a remedy for the violation of a right recognized in Miranda. The majority believe that the defendants still ‘received statements in violation of Miranda’s procedures. can demand repression in the trial of.

“But sometimes,” Kagan continued, “such a statement would not be suppressed. And sometimes, as a result, a defendant would be wrongfully convicted and spent in prison for years. He could be on appeal or in prison. may succeed in reversing the conviction. But then, what remedy does he have for the damage he has caused?”

Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor join Kagan’s dissent.

Kagan wrote the majority opinion in a second ruling on the trial under civil rights law, which is about whether a death row prisoner in Georgia could sue the authorities there about how he was to be executed.

The prisoner, Michael Nance, argued that his constitutional right to escape cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment would be violated, as he was put to death by lethal injection because his nerves were compromised.

Instances of the Supreme Court requiring prisoners to object to methods of execution to identify an alternative. Nance proposed a firing squad, a method accepted in four states but not Georgia. He said officials in Georgia could adapt one of those other states’ protocols.

In Nance v Ward, the question was whether Nance could sue under civil rights law. Kagan said yes.

“The prisoner is not challenging the death penalty itself; He is taking the validity of that sentence as a given,” she wrote. “And that is providing the state with a real blueprint to carry out the death penalty. If the prisoner gets his requested relief, it is because he has persuaded a court that the state can easily use his motion to execute him. ,

In disagreement, Barrett wrote that Nance was required to file a habeas corpus challenge and could not use civil rights law because, as a practical matter, he was seeking to thwart his execution altogether. was.

“The court is looking far down the road,” she wrote, suggesting that there was speculation about the potential adoption of Georgia’s firing squad. “In my view, the outcome of a prisoner’s relief depends on the law of the state” as it currently exists,

Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch become involved in Barrett’s disagreement.

This article originally appeared in new York Times,

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