459 U.S. 42 (1982), 82-158, Wyrick v. Fields

Docket Nº:No. 82-158
Citation:459 U.S. 42, 103 S.Ct. 394, 74 L.Ed.2d 214
Party Name:Wyrick v. Fields
Case Date:November 29, 1982
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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459 U.S. 42 (1982)

103 S.Ct. 394, 74 L.Ed.2d 214

Wyrick

v.

Fields

No. 82-158

United States Supreme Court

Nov. 29, 1982

ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES

COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Respondent, a soldier stationed in Missouri, after being arrested on a charge of rape and after consulting with private counsel and with an attorney provided him by the Army, requested a polygraph examination. Immediately prior to the examination, which was conducted by an agent of the Army's Criminal Investigation Division (CID), respondent signed a consent document that included information of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436; the CID agent read to respondent a detailed statement that also explained his rights, including the right to stop answering questions at any time or to speak to a lawyer before answering further, even if he signed a waiver certificate; and respondent, in response to a question, stated that he did not want a lawyer present. At the conclusion of the polygraph examination, the CID agent told respondent that there had been some deceit, and asked him if he could explain why his answers were bothering him; respondent then admitted having intercourse with the victim, but said that it had been consensual; the agent asked whether respondent wished to discuss the matter further with another CID agent and with the local Police Chief, and respondent said that he did. The Police Chief read respondent his Miranda warnings once again before questioning him, and respondent repeated that his sexual contact with the victim had been consensual. Respondent was convicted after trial in a Missouri state court, which denied his motion to suppress the testimony of the two CID agents and the Police Chief as to his "confessions" to voluntary intercourse, holding that he had waived his rights. The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Federal District Court denied respondent's subsequent petition for habeas corpus relief. However, the Federal Court of Appeals reversed, holding that, although respondent had waived his Fifth Amendment right to have counsel present while the polygraph examination itself was being conducted, the State failed to prove that he knowingly and intelligently waived his right to the presence of counsel at the examining CID agent's "post-test interrogation." The court suggested that there would have been no violation if the agent merely had paused at the end of the polygraph examination to remind respondent of his rights.

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Held: The Court of Appeals misconstrued Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, which establishes that, where an accused, after invoking his right to counsel, initiates subsequent dialogue with the authorities, the question whether there was a valid waiver of the right to counsel as to any interrogation that occurs during such dialogue is controlled by the "totality of the circumstances," including the fact that the accused initiated the dialogue. Here, respondent initiated not just a meeting with the authorities, but interrogation, by requesting the polygraph examination. Respondent validly waived his right to have counsel present at "post-test" questioning unless the circumstances changed so seriously that his answers no longer were voluntary, or unless he no longer was waiving his rights knowingly and voluntarily. To require new warnings merely because the examination had been discontinued and respondent was asked if he could explain the test's unfavorable results would be unreasonable. The questions put to respondent after the examination would not have caused him to forget the rights of which he had been advised, and which he had understood, moments before.

Certiorari granted; 682 F.2d 154, reversed and remanded.

Per curiam opinion.

PER CURIAM.

In this case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, over a dissent by Judge Ross, directed that respondent Edward Fields' petition for a writ of habeas corpus be granted; it did so on the ground that Fields had been convicted with evidence obtained in violation of his Fifth Amendment right to have counsel present at an interrogation. 682 F.2d 154 (1982). We have concluded that the Court of Appeals' majority misconstrued this Court's recent decision in Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477 (1981), and imposed a new and unjustified limit on police questioning of a suspect who voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waives his right to have counsel present.

I

Respondent, a soldier then stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., was charged with raping an 81-year-old woman on September 21, 1974. After his arrest on September 25, Fields was released on his own recognizance. He retained

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private defense counsel. After discussing the matter with his counsel and with a military attorney provided him by the Army, Fields requested a polygraph examination. This request was granted, and the examination was conducted on December 4 by an agent of the Army's Criminal Investigation Division (CID) at the fort.

Prior to undergoing the polygraph examination, Fields was given a written consent document, which he signed, informing him of his rights, as required by Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and of his rights under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Eighth Amendment. In addition, the CID agent read to Fields the following detailed statement:

Before I ask you any questions, you must understand your rights. You do not have to answer my questions or say anything. Anything you say or do can be used against you in a criminal trial. You have a right to talk to a lawyer before questioning or have a lawyer [103 S.Ct. 395] present with you during the questioning. This lawyer can be a civilian lawyer of your own choice, or a military lawyer, detailed for you at no expense to you. Also, you may ask for a military lawyer of your choice by name, and he will be detailed for you if superiors determine he's reasonably available. If you are now going to discuss the offense under investigation, which is rape, with or without a lawyer present, you have a right to stop answering questions at any time or speak to a lawyer before answering further, even if you sign a waiver certificate. Do you want a lawyer at this time?

See State v. Fields, 538 S.W.2d 348, 350, n. 1 (Mo.App.1976) (emphasis added). Fields answered: "No."

At the conclusion of the polygraph examination, which took less than two hours, the CID agent told Fields that there had been some deceit, and asked him if he could explain why his answers were bothering him. Fields then admitted having

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intercourse with the victim on September 21, but said that she had instigated and consented to it. The agent asked Fields if he wished to discuss the matter further with another CID agent and with the Waynesville, Mo., Chief of Police. Fields said that he did. Then, in his turn, the Police Chief read Fields his Miranda warnings once again before questioning him. Fields repeated that he had had sexual contact with the victim, but that it had been consensual.

Respondent was tried before a jury in the Circuit Court, Pulaski County, Mo. He sought to suppress the testimony of the two CID agents and the Police Chief regarding his "confessions" to voluntary intercourse. The trial court denied the motion, ruling that Fields had waived his rights. The testimony was admitted. Fields was convicted, and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment on the ground that Fields "had been repeatedly and amply advised of his rights, and . . . voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently waived his rights." 538 S.W.2d at 350.

Eventually, Fields sought a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. The District Court, agreeing with the Missouri Court of Appeals that Fields had voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waived his right to counsel, denied respondent's petition. On appeal, however, the Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded the case with directions to order the State either to release Fields or to afford him a new trial. 682 F.2d at 162.

II

The Court of Appeals found that the police conduct in question contravened the "clear import" of this Court's decision in Edward v. Arizona: "a defendant's right to have counsel present at custodial interrogations must be zealously guarded." 682 F.2d at 158. In Edwards, this Court had held that, once a suspect invokes his right to counsel, he may not be subjected to further interrogation until counsel is provided

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unless the suspect himself initiates dialogue with the authorities. 451 U.S. at 484-487. The Eighth Circuit recognized that what it called the "per se rule" of Edwards "does not resolve the issue present here." 682 F.2d at 158. Fields and his counsel had agreed that Fields should take the polygraph examination, and Fields appeared voluntarily and stated that he did not want counsel present during the interrogation. Thus, the Court of Appeals conceded that "Fields thereby `initiated' further dialogue with the authorities after his right to counsel had been invoked." Ibid.

When the suspect has initiated the dialogue, Edwards makes clear that the right to have a lawyer present can be waived:

If, as frequently would occur in the course of a meeting initiated by the accused, the conversation is not wholly one-sided, it is likely that the officers will say or do something that clearly would be "interrogation." In that event, the question would be whether a valid waiver of the right to counsel and the right to [103 S.Ct. 396] silence had occurred, that is, whether the purported waiver was knowing and intelligent, and found to be so under the totality of the circumstances, including...

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