453 U.S. 355 (1981), 80-1846, California v. Prysock

Docket Nº:No. 80-1846
Citation:453 U.S. 355, 101 S.Ct. 2806, 69 L.Ed.2d 696
Party Name:California v. Prysock
Case Date:June 29, 1981
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 355

453 U.S. 355 (1981)

101 S.Ct. 2806, 69 L.Ed.2d 696

California

v.

Prysock

No. 80-1846

United States Supreme Court

June 29, 1981

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEAL

OF CALIFORNIA, FIFTH APPELLATE DISTRICT

Syllabus

Held: There is no rigid rule requiring that the content of the warnings to an accused prior to police interrogation required by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, be a virtual incantation of the precise language contained in the Miranda opinion. Thus, the California Court of Appeal erred in holding that Miranda warnings were inadequate simply because of the order in which they were given to respondent (a minor), where, after he was told that he had "the right to talk to a lawyer before you are questioned, have him present with you while you are being questioned, and all during the questioning," he was informed that he had the right to have his parents present, and then was informed that he had "the right to have a lawyer appointed to represent you at no cost to yourself." These warnings adequately conveyed to respondent his right to have a lawyer appointed if he could not afford one prior to and during interrogation, and the Court of Appeal erred in concluding otherwise.

Certiorari granted; reversed and remanded.

Per curiam opinion.

PER CURIAM.

This case presents the question whether the warnings given to respondent prior to a recorded conversation with a police officer satisfied the requirements of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). Although ordinarily this Court would not be inclined to review a case involving application of that precedent to a particular set of facts, see Fare v. Michael C., 439 U.S. 1310, 1314 (1978) (REHNQUIST, J., in chambers, opinion of Court at 442 U.S. 707 (1979)), the opinion of the California Court of Appeal essentially laid down a flat rule requiring that the content of Miranda warnings be a virtual incantation of the precise language contained in the Miranda opinion. Because such a rigid rule was not mandated by Miranda or any other decision of this Court, and is not required to serve the purposes of Miranda, we grant the motion

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of respondent for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and the petition for certiorari, and reverse.

On January 30, 1978, Mrs. Donna Iris Erickson was brutally murdered. Later that evening, respondent and a codefendant were apprehended for commission of the offense. Respondent was brought to a substation of the Tulare County Sheriff's Department and advised of his Miranda rights. He declined to talk, and, since [101 S.Ct. 2808] he was a minor, his parents were notified. Respondent's parents arrived and, after meeting with them, respondent decided to answer police questions. An officer questioned respondent, on tape, with respondent's parents present. The tape reflects that the following warnings were given prior to any questioning:

Sgt. Byrd: . . . Mr. Randall James Prysock, earlier today I advised you of your legal rights, and at that time you advised me you did not wish to talk to me, is that correct?

Randall P.: Yeh.

Sgt. Byrd: And, uh, during, at the first interview, your folks were not present, they are now present. I want to go through your legal rights again with you and after each legal right I would like for you to answer whether you understand it or not. . . . Your legal rights, Mr. Prysock, is [sic] follows: Number one, you have the right to remain silent. This means you don't have to talk to me at all unless you so desire. Do you understand this?

Randall P.: Yeh.

Sgt. Byrd: If you give up your right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used as evidence against you in a court of law. Do you understand this?

Randall P.: Yes.

Sgt. Byrd: You have the right to talk to a lawyer before you are questioned, have him present with you while you are being questioned, and all during the questioning. Do you understand this?

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Randall P.: Yes.

Sgt. Byrd: You also, being a juvenile, you have the right to have your parents present, which they are. Do you understand this?

Randall P.: Yes.

Sgt. Byrd: Even if they weren't here, you'd have this right. Do you understand this?

Randall P.: Yes.

Sgt. Byrd: You all, uh, -- if, -- you have the right to have a lawyer appointed to represent you at no cost to yourself. Do you understand this?

Randall P.: Yes.

Sgt. Byrd: Now, having all these legal rights in mind, do you wish to talk to me at this time?

Randall P.: Yes.

App. A to Pet. for Cert. i-iii. At this point, at the request of Mrs. Prysock, a conversation took place with the tape recorder turned off. According to Sgt. Byrd, Mrs. Prysock asked if respondent could still have an attorney at a later time if he gave a statement now without one. Sgt. Byrd assured Mrs. Prysock that respondent would have an attorney when he went to court, and that "he could have one at this time if he wished one." Id. at 11.1

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[101 S.Ct. 2809] At trial in the Superior Court of Tulare County, the court denied respondent's motion to suppress the taped statement. Respondent was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder with two special circumstances -- torture and robbery. Cal.Penal Code Ann. §§ 187, 190.2, 12022(b) (West Supp.1981). He was also convicted of robbery with the use of a dangerous weapon, §§ 211, 12022(b), burglary with the use of a deadly weapon, §§ 459, 12022(b), automobile theft, Cal.Veh.Code Ann. § 10851 (West Supp.1981), escape from a youth facility, Cal.Welf. & Inst.Code Ann. § 871 (West 1972), and destruction of evidence, Cal.Penal Code Ann. § 135 (West 1970). The Court of Appeal for the Fifth Appellate District reversed respondent's convictions and ordered a new trial because of what it thought to be error under Miranda. App. A to Pet. for Cert. 4. The Court of Appeal ruled that respondent's recorded incriminating statements, given with his parents present, had to be excluded from consideration by the jury because respondent was not properly advised of his right to the services of a free attorney before and during interrogation. Although respondent was indisputably informed that he had

the right to talk to a lawyer before you are questioned, have him present with you while you are being questioned, and all during the questioning,

and further informed that he had "the right to have a lawyer appointed to represent you at no cost to yourself," the Court of Appeal ruled that these warnings were inadequate because respondent

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