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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Speak up if you wish to remain silent

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Suspects have the right to remain silent, but they must explicitly tell police that, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled. The question was raised during a 2000 murder case from Michigan. The suspect was "mostly silent" during a three-hour interrogation before he eventually made an incriminating statement, the AP reports. His lawyer argued the man had exercised his right to silence by being uncommunicative. Justice Kennedy says that's not enough:

"Thompkins did not say that he wanted to remain silent or that he did not want to talk to police," Kennedy said. "Had he made either of these simple, unambiguous statements, he would have invoked his 'right to cut off questioning.' Here he did neither, so he did not invoke his right to remain silent."

The vote was 5-4. Justice Sotomayor was one of those in opposition.

"Criminal suspects must now unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent — which counterintuitively, requires them to speak," she said. "At the same time, suspects will be legally presumed to have waived their rights even if they have given no clear expression of their intent to do so."

Here's a PDF of the opinions.

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