I just learned that the surviving 'Boston Bomber', Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, will be questioned without being read his rights under the Miranda decision of 1966. This bothers me. If you want to understand why, read on.
Anyone my age or a little older remembers an old TV show named Adam 12. During just about every episode, one of the officers would pull out a card, and read the following:
You have the right to remain silent. If you give up the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used as evidence against you in a court of law.
You have the right to attorney before questioning. If you do so, and cannot afford one, an attorney will be appointed for you free of charge.
Then they ask if you understand this, if you give up the right to silence, and then if you give up the right to an attorney.
What this litany is, is a repition of your rights under the fifth and sixth amendments to keep the government from using other means to convict you of a crime. The Miranda decision was passed because back in 1966, a man was convicted using testimony without being informed. Oddly enough after the fact, before that decision was passed, cops did not have to inform you at all.
There has been an exception created in the Miranda warning, thanks to a rape case in 1984. The victim had claimed that her assailant had a gun. When he was later captured in a grocery store, the officer searching him found an empty shoulder holster. He asked (Before reading his rights) where the gun was, and the man being arrested motioned toward where he had ditched it. The trial was challenged because the officer asked first, yet the challenge was denied 'in the interests of public safety'.
In the last decade or so, it has been used several times, almost always in terrorism cases.
But if your thought is 'good', remember this:
First, remember that Tsarnaev is in a hospital after being injured in his arrest. There is no 'legal' reason not to question him while he lays there doped to the eyeballs on pain killers.
Second, while he is in this condition, he has to remember that he even has these rights to invoke them. Back when I was 24 I had a blinding toothache, and a friend gave me a pain pill that had me flying so high I didn't even know what planet
I was on. Since then I have found I have a high pain threshold, but a very low one for drugs used for pain. These days if I get a toothache I just pop a couple of Aspirin, and I'm good. Anything stronger, and I am pretty much useless until it wears off.
So picture this kid flying between the stars, being asked questions that will later come up as evidence.
Third, he's from Chechnya. He's only been in this country for ten years. If you have been watching TV during that time, you might have seen a Miranda scene, but it is not likely that you have heard a lot about it. So he might not even know he even has rights. Most countries (Including his homeland) don't observe them.
Finally, who decides when this 'public safety' exemption is used? Answer, the Justice department and the Attorney General. I.E., your prosecutor and the cops.
The record is alarming for two reasons. First, while the Feds claimed to get valuable information from the cases where it has been used, DOJ has not bothered to get permission in the terrorist cases where it has been invoked before. They have just assumed they had that ability.
Worse yet, after the fact there have been protests, but in those cases the protests were not about the prisoner's rights... They were protests that Miranda was used at all!
So we have the government deciding when they can invoke this exemption. Not a pretty thought when you consider that if they use it in terrorist cases, what stop them from nailing some drug mule carrying into the country and question him to arrest the traffickers