Conclusion No. In a decision with no majority, a four-justice plurality found that the post-Miranda confession is only admissible - even if the two-stage interview was unintentional, as it was in Elstad - if the Miranda warning and 28
accompanying break are sufficient to give the suspect the reasonable belief that she has the right not to speak with the police. Justice Anthony Kennedy, in a concurring opinion that provided the fifth vote, found that evaluating the warning and accompanying break was only necessary if the police used the two-stage interrogation intentionally. Justice Kennedy wrote, "The admissibility of postwarning statements should continue to be governed by Elstad's principles unless the deliberate two-step strategy is employed. Then, the postwarning statements must be excluded unless curative measures are taken before they were made." Powell v. Alabama Facts of the Case Nine black youths -- young, ignorant, and illiterate -- were accused of raping two white women. Alabama officials sprinted through the legal proceedings: a total of three trials took one day and all nine were sentenced to death. Alabama law required the appointment of counsel in capital cases, but the attorneys did not consult with their clients and had done little more than appear to represent them at the trial. This cases was decided together with Patterson v. Alabama and Weems v. Alabama. Question Did the trials violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment? Conclusion Yes. The Court held that the trials denied due process because the defendants were not given reasonable time and opportunity to secure counsel in their defense. Though Justice George Sutherland did not rest the Court holding on the right-to-counsel guarantee of the Sixth Amendment, he repeatedly implicated that guarantee. This case was an early example of national constitutional protection in the field of criminal justice. Gideon v. Wainwright Facts of the Case Gideon was charged in a Florida state court with a felony for breaking and entering. He lacked funds and was unable to hire a lawyer to prepare his defense. When he requested the court to appoint an attorney for him, the court refused, stating that it was only obligated to appoint counsel to indigent defendants in capital cases. Gideon defended himself in the trial; he was convicted by a jury and the court sentenced him to five years in a state prison. Question Did the state court's failure to appoint counsel for Gideon violate his right to a fair trial and due process of law as protected by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments? Conclusion In a unanimous opinion, the Court held that Gideon had a right to be represented by a court-appointed attorney and, in doing so, overruled its 1942 decision of Betts v. Brady. In this case the Court found that the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of counsel was a fundamental right, essential to a fair trial, which should be made applicable to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Justice Black called it an "obvious truth" that a fair trial for a poor defendant could not be guaranteed without the assistance of counsel.
- Fall '08
- The Bible, Supreme Court of the United States, First Amendment to the United States Constitution