Supreme Court: Speak Up to Remain Silent

The Truth About Guns is about guns. So we’d like to point out that today’s Supreme Court ruling on MIranda Rights concerned the shooting death of a man named Samuel Morris in 2001. A survivor of the attack fingered Van Chester Thompkins as the trigger man. Police arrested Thompkins and read him his Miranda rights (“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be uses against you . . . .). The po-po proceeded to interrogate Thompkins for three hours, during which time he said sweet F.A. However, during the “interview,” one of the officers asked Tompkins if he prayed for forgiveness for “shooting that boy down.” Thompkins said, “Yes.” He was convicted of the crime. On appeal, Thompkins lawyers argued that the court should throw out the statement, claiming his client invoked his Miranda rights by remaining uncommunicative with the interrogating officers. The Supremes threw out the throwing out . . .

Speaking for the majority, Justice Kennedy wrote that Thompkins’ silence during his interrogation wasn’t good enough. “If a suspect makes an ambiguous or equivocal invocation of that right. Police are not required to end their questioning.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

“Today’s decision turns Miranda upside down,” she wrote. “Criminal suspects must now unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent — which, counter-intuitively, requires them to speak. 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.”