The defendant was wanted for murders committed in Mississippi. He was arrested in California. The day after his arrest, two FBI agents sought to interview the defendant. The defendant was advised of his Miranda rights and agreed to speak with the two agents. After answering some questions, the defendant stopped, telling the agents to “Come back Monday, when I have a lawyer,” and stating that he would “make a more complete statement then with his lawyer present.” The agents then terminated the interview. Three days later, after the defendant had consulted with his lawyer on two or three occasions, a Sheriff from Mississippi arrived in California to question the defendant. The defendant was told that he “had to talk” to the Sheriff, and that he “could not refuse.” The defendant declined to sign a written waiver of his Miranda rights, but agreed to talk to the Sheriff and made an incriminating statement. The defendant’s lawyer was not present during this interview.
Whether the defendant’s Fifth Amendment right to counsel was violated by the police-initiated questioning that was conducted after he had requested counsel, even though he had been given the opportunity to consult with his counsel?
Yes. The defendant’s Fifth Amendment right to counsel was violated. The questioning was initiated by the police after he had requested counsel.
In Miranda v. Arizona, the Court held that “the police must terminate an interrogation of an accused in custody if the accused requests the assistance of counsel.” To ensure compliance with this mandate, the Court held in Arizona v. Edwards that “once an accused requests counsel, officials may not reinitiate questioning until counsel has been made available to him.” The issue in this case was whether the police could reinitiate questioning after a defendant, who requested counsel, has been given the opportunity to consult with counsel. The Court relied upon the language in its Miranda decision for the holding that “the Fifth Amendment protection of Edwards is not terminated or suspended by consultation with counsel.” In other words, “when counsel is requested, interrogation must cease, and officials may not reinitiate interrogation without counsel present, whether or not the accused has consulted with his attorney.” The need for counsel to protect a suspect’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination includes not only the right to consult with counsel, but also to have counsel present during any questioning, if the suspect so desires.
498 U.S. 146, 111 S. Ct. 486 (1990)