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Connecticut v. Barrett


The defendant, while in custody for sexual assault, was advised of his Miranda warnings three times. On each occasion, after signing and dating an acknowledgment that he had been informed of his rights, the defendant indicated to the officers that he would not make a written statement. However, he was willing to talk about the incident that led to his arrest. After the second and third warnings, the defendant added that he would not make a written statement outside the presence of counsel. He then orally admitted to his involvement in the sexual assault.


Whether the defendant’s limited invocation of his right to counsel prohibits all interrogation?


No. As long as the officers scrupulously abided by the defendant’s requests they can proceed with the interrogation.


The fundamental purpose of the Miranda rights is “to assure that the individual’s right to choose between speech and silence remains unfettered throughout the interrogation process.” Once the suspect is warned, he is free to exercise his own will in deciding whether or not to make a statement.

The defendant’s limited requests for counsel were accompanied by affirmative announcements of his willingness to speak with the officers. The defendant’s decision need not be logical. It only needs to be voluntary.


479 U.S. 523, 107 S. Ct. 828 (1987)

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