February 28, 2006
The exclusionary rule and Miranda at sentencing
In an interesting opinion that would provide a great set of facts and issues for a moot court competition, the Fourth Circuit today in US v. Nichols, No. 04-5020 (4th Cir. Feb. 28, 2006) (available here) addresses whether "the district court improperly refused to consider at sentencing a statement obtained from Nichols in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477 (1981)." Here are a few highlights from a thoughtful opinion in Nichols:
Only one federal appellate court, the Seventh Circuit, has specifically addressed whether statements obtained by police in violation of Miranda are admissible at sentencing....
We agree with the Seventh Circuit that statements obtained in violation of Miranda, if they are otherwise voluntary, may generally be considered at sentencing....
In sum, we conclude that in cases such as this one — where there is no evidence that an illegally obtained statement was actually coerced or otherwise involuntary — the substantial burden on the sentencing process resulting from exclusion of that statement outweighs any countervailing concerns about police deterrence or unreliable evidence. As with evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the disadvantages of applying the Miranda exclusionary rule at sentencing are large, and the benefits small or non-existent.
February 28, 2006 at 05:35 PM | Permalink
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The fourth circus will approve any government activity, so long as someone says that it is too burdensome to prevent state actors from undertaking unconstitutional activity.
Posted by: anon | Feb 28, 2006 6:11:48 PM
The Fourth Circuit has took the hopefully ill fated step on the slippery slope of giving police a “knife with a folding blade”. Miranda violations called for a judicially created remedy to prevent abuses by police in the future, but now the suppression of those statements which cut the ill-gotten statements from the trial can be used at sentencing.
“We agree with the Seventh Circuit that statements obtained in violation of Miranda, if they are otherwise voluntary, may generally be considered at sentencing....” So the police who have arrested a drug dealer red-handed, can now explain, “look guy I’m going to make you a deal, see, I’m not going to read you your rights so anything you tell me can’t be used against you, now tell me what else you been doing, kinda of the record”. At sentencing the police can then say, yes we did not read him his rights, but here is his confession. The knife is given back with a hidden folding blade.
Posted by: Barry Ward | Feb 28, 2006 6:22:11 PM
A dangerous rule when the sentencing tail still (despite Booker) wags the crime of conviction dog.
Posted by: anon | Mar 1, 2006 12:19:03 AM
Posted by: | Oct 14, 2008 10:27:22 PM