423 U.S. 96 (1975), 74-653, Michigan v. Mosley

Docket Nº:No. 74-653
Citation:423 U.S. 96, 96 S.Ct. 321, 46 L.Ed.2d 313
Party Name:Michigan v. Mosley
Case Date:December 09, 1975
Court:United States Supreme Court

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423 U.S. 96 (1975)

96 S.Ct. 321, 46 L.Ed.2d 313




No. 74-653

United States Supreme Court

Dec. 9, 1975

Argued October 6, 1975



Respondent, who had been arrested in connection with certain robberies and advised by a detective in accordance with Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, that he was not obliged to answer any questions and that he could remain silent if he wished, and having made oral and written acknowledgment of the Miranda warnings, declined to discuss the robberies, whereupon the detective ceased the interrogation. More than two hours later, after giving Miranda warnings, another detective questioned respondent solely about an unrelated murder. Respondent made an inculpatory statement, which was later used in his trial for murder, which resulted in his conviction. The appellate court reversed on the ground that Miranda mandated a cessation of all interrogation after respondent had declined to answer the first detective's questions.

Held: The admission in evidence of respondent's incriminating statement did not violate Miranda principles. Respondent's right to cut off questioning was scrupulously honored, the police having immediately ceased the robbery interrogation after respondent's refusal to answer and having commenced questioning about the murder only after a significant time lapse and after a fresh set of warnings had been given respondent. Westover v. United States, 384 U.S. 436, distinguished. Pp. 99-107.

51 Mich.App. 105, 214 N.W.2d 564, vacated and remanded.

STEWART, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. WHITE, J., filed an opinion concurring in the result, post, p. 107. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL, J., joined, post, p. 111.

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STEWART, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.

The respondent, Richard Bert Mosley, was arrested in Detroit, Mich., in the early afternoon of April 8, 1971, in connection with robberies that had recently occurred at the Blue Goose Bar and the White Tower Restaurant on that city's lower east side. The arresting officer, Detective James Cowie of the Armed Robbery Section of the Detroit Police Department, was acting on a tip implicating Mosley and three other men in the robberies.1 After effecting the arrest, Detective Cowie brought Mosley to the Robbery, Breaking and Entering Bureau of the Police Department, located on the fourth floor of the departmental headquarters building. The officer advised Mosley of his rights under this Court's decision in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, and had him read and sign the department's constitutional rights notification certificate. After filling out the necessary arrest papers, Cowie began questioning Mosley about the robbery of the White Tower Restaurant. When Mosley said he did not want to answer any questions about the robberies, Cowie promptly ceased the interrogation. The completion of the arrest papers and the questioning of Mosley together took approximately 20 minutes. At no time during the questioning did Mosley indicate a desire to consult with a lawyer, and there is no claim that the procedures followed to this point did not fully comply with the strictures of the Miranda opinion. Mosley was then taken to a ninth-floor cell block.

Shortly after 6 p.m., Detective Hill of the Detroit

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Police Department Homicide Bureau brought Mosley from the cell block to the fifth-floor office of the Homicide Bureau for questioning about the fatal shooting of a man named Leroy Williams. Williams had been killed on January [96 S.Ct. 324] 9, 1971, during a holdup attempt outside the 101 Ranch Bar in Detroit. Mosley had not been arrested on this charge or interrogated about it by Detective Cowie.2 Before questioning Mosley about this homicide, Detective Hill carefully advised him of his "Miranda rights." Mosley read the notification form both silently and aloud, and Detective Hill then read and explained the warnings to him and had him sign the form. Mosley at first denied any involvement in the Williams murder, but after the officer told him that Anthony Smith had confessed to participating in the slaying and had named him as the "shooter," Mosley made a statement implicating himself in the homicide.3 The interrogation by Detective Hill lasted approximately 15 minutes, and at no time during its course did Mosley ask to consult with a lawyer or indicate that he did not want to discuss the homicide. In short, there is no claim that the procedures followed during Detective Hill's interrogation of Mosley, standing alone, did not fully comply with the strictures of the Miranda opinion..4

Mosley was subsequently charged in a one-count information with first-degree murder. Before the trial, he moved to suppress his incriminating statement on a number of grounds, among them the claim that, under the doctrine of the Miranda case, it was constitutionally

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impermissible for Detective Hill to question him about the Williams murder after he had told Detective Cowie that he did not want to answer any questions about the robberies.5 The trial court denied the motion to suppress after an evidentiary hearing, and the incriminating statement was subsequently introduced in evidence against Mosley at his trial. The jury convicted Mosley of first-degree murder, and the court imposed a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.

On appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals, Mosley renewed his previous objections to the use of his incriminating statement in evidence. The appellate court reversed the judgment of conviction, holding that Detective Hill's interrogation of Mosley had been a per se violation of the Miranda doctrine. Accordingly, without reaching Mosley's other contentions, the Court remanded the case for a new trial with instructions that Mosley's statement be suppressed as evidence. 51 Mich.App. 105, 214 N.W.2d 564. After further appeal was denied by the Michigan Supreme Court, 392 Mich. 764, the State filed a petition for certiorari here. We granted the writ because of the important constitutional question presented. 419 U.S. 1119.

In the Miranda case, this Court promulgated a set of safeguards to protect the there-delineated constitutional rights of persons subjected to custodial police interrogation. In sum, the Court held in that case that, unless law enforcement officers give certain specified warnings before

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questioning a person in custody,6 and follow certain specified procedures during the course of any subsequent interrogation, any statement made by the person in custody cannot over his objection be admitted in [96 S.Ct. 325] evidence against him as a defendant at trial, even though the statement may, in fact, be wholly voluntary. See Michigan v. Tucker, 417 U.S. 433, 443.

Neither party in the present case challenges the continuing validity of the Miranda decision, or of any of the so-called guidelines it established to protect what the Court there said was a person's constitutional privilege against compulsory self-incrimination. The issue in this case, rather, is whether the conduct of the Detroit police that led to Mosley's incriminating statement did, in fact, violate the Miranda "guidelines," so as to render the statement inadmissible in evidence against Mosley at his trial. Resolution of the question turns almost entirely on the interpretation of a single passage in the Miranda opinion, upon which the Michigan appellate court relied in finding a per se violation of Miranda:

Once warnings have been given, the subsequent procedure is clear. If the individual indicates in any manner, at any time prior to or during questioning, that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease. At this point, he has shown that he intends to exercise his Fifth Amendment privilege; any statement taken after the person invokes his privilege cannot be other than the product of compulsion, subtle or otherwise. Without the right to cut off questioning, the setting of in-custody

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interrogation operates on the individual to overcome free choice in producing a statement after the privilege has been once invoked.

384 U.S. at 473-474.7

This passage states that "the interrogation must cease" when the person in custody indicates that "he wishes to remain silent." It does not state under what circumstances, if any, a resumption of questioning is permissible.8 The passage could be literally read to mean that

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a person who has invoked his "right to silence" can never again be subjected to custodial interrogation by any police officer at any time or place on any subject. Another possible construction of the passage would characterize "any statement taken after the person invokes his privilege" as "the product of compulsion," and would therefore mandate its exclusion from evidence, even if it were volunteered by the person in custody without any further interrogation whatever. Or the passage could be interpreted to require only the immediate cessation of questioning, [96 S.Ct. 326] and to permit a resumption of interrogation after a momentary respite.

It is evident that any of these possible literal interpretations would lead to absurd and unintended results. To permit the continuation of custodial interrogation after a momentary cessation would clearly frustrate the purposes of Miranda by allowing repeated rounds of questioning to undermine the will of the person being questioned. At the other extreme, a blanket prohibition against the taking of voluntary statements or a permanent immunity from further interrogation, regardless of the circumstances, would transform the Miranda safeguards into...

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