486 U.S. 675 (1988), 87-354, Arizona v. Roberson

Docket Nº:No. 87-354
Citation:486 U.S. 675, 108 S.Ct. 2093, 100 L.Ed.2d 704, 56 U.S.L.W. 4590
Party Name:Arizona v. Roberson
Case Date:June 15, 1988
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 675

486 U.S. 675 (1988)

108 S.Ct. 2093, 100 L.Ed.2d 704, 56 U.S.L.W. 4590

Arizona

v.

Roberson

No. 87-354

United States Supreme Court

June 15, 1988

Argued March 29, 1988

CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF ARIZONA

Syllabus

Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 484-485, held that a suspect who has

expressed his desire to deal with the police only through counsel is not subject to further interrogation by the authorities until counsel has been made available to him, unless the accused himself initiates further communication.

After being arrested at the scene of a burglary, and being advised by the arresting officer of his constitutional rights, as declared in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, to remain silent and to have an attorney present during any interrogation, respondent replied that he "wanted a lawyer before answering any questions," which fact was duly reported in the officer's written report. Three days later, while respondent was still in custody, a different officer, unaware that respondent had earlier requested counsel who had not yet been provided, advised him of his rights and interrogated him about a different burglary, obtaining an incriminating statement concerning that crime. In the prosecution for that offense, the Arizona trial court suppressed the statement in reliance upon a State Supreme Court decision that refused to distinguish Edwards with respect to a suspect who was reinterrogated about an unrelated offense after he had requested counsel, ruling that the fact that the further interrogation in Edwards had involved the same offense was not legally [108 S.Ct. 2095] significant for Fifth Amendment purposes. The Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the suppression.

Held: The Edwards rule applies to bar police-initiated interrogation following a suspect's request for counsel in the context of a separate investigation. Pp. 680-688.

(a) The bright-line, prophylactic Edwards rule benefits the accused and the State alike. It protects against the inherently compelling pressures of custodial interrogation suspects who feel incapable of undergoing such questioning without the advice of counsel, by creating a presumption that any subsequent waiver of the right to counsel at the authorities' behest was coercive, and not purely voluntary. Moreover, it provides clear and unequivocal guidelines that inform police and prosecutors with specificity what they may do in conducting custodial interrogation, and that inform courts under what circumstances statements obtained during such interrogation are not admissible. Pp. 680-682.

(b) This Court's decisions do not compel an exception to Edwards for post-request police-initiated custodial interrogation relating to a separate

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investigation. Michigan v. Mosley, 423 U.S. 96; Connecticut v. Barrett, 479 U.S. 523; Colorado v. Spring, 479 U.S. 564; and Maine v. Moulton, 474 U.S. 159, distinguished. Pp. 682-685.

(c) The nature and factual setting of this case do not compel an exception to the Edwards rule. The argument that the existence of separate investigations in itself precludes the type of badgering that led to the decision in Edwards is not persuasive. It is by no means clear that police engaged in separate investigations will be any less eager than police involved in only one inquiry to question a suspect in custody. Moreover, to a suspect who has indicated his inability to cope with custodial interrogation by requesting counsel, any further interrogation without counsel will surely exacerbate whatever compulsion to speak the suspect may be feeling. The giving of fresh sets of Miranda warnings will not necessarily "reassure" a suspect who has been denied requested counsel that his rights have remained untrammeled. In fact, in a case such as this, in which three days elapsed between the unsatisfied request for counsel and the separate-offense interrogation, there is a serious risk that the mere repetition of the warnings would not overcome the presumption of coercion created by prolonged police custody. Furthermore, the fact that it may be in an uncounseled suspect's interests to know about, and give a statement concerning, the separate offense does not compel an exception to Edwards, since the suspect, having requested counsel, can determine how to deal with the separate investigations with counsel's advice, and since the police are free to inform the suspect of the facts of the second investigation, as long as they do not interrogate him, and he is free to initiate further communication. Finally, the fact that the officer who conducted respondent's second interrogation did not know that he had requested counsel cannot justify the failure to honor that request, since Edwards focuses on the state of mind of the suspect, and not of the police, and since the officer could have discovered the request simply by reading the arresting officer's report. Pp. 685-688.

Affirmed.

STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and SCALIA, JJ., joined. KENNEDY, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., joined, post, p. 688. O'CONNOR, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

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STEVENS, J., lead opinion

JUSTICE STEVENS delivered the opinion of the Court.

In Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 484-485 (1981), we held that a suspect who has

expressed his desire to deal with the police only through counsel is not subject to further interrogation by the authorities until counsel has been made available to him, unless the accused himself initiates further communication, exchanges, or conversations with the police.

In this case, Arizona asks us to craft an exception to that rule for cases in which the police want to interrogate a suspect about an offense that is unrelated to the subject of their initial interrogation. Several years ago, the Arizona Supreme Court considered, and rejected, a similar argument, stating:

The only difference between Edwards and the appellant is that Edwards was questioned about the same offense

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after a request for counsel, while the appellant was reinterrogated about an unrelated offense. We do not believe that this factual distinction holds any legal significance for fifth amendment purposes.

State v. Routhier, 137 Ariz. 90, 97, 669 P.2d 68, 75 (1983), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 1073 (1984). We agree with the Arizona Supreme Court's conclusion.

I

On April 16, 1985, respondent was arrested at the scene of a just-completed burglary. The arresting officer advised him that he had a constitutional right to remain silent and also the right to have an attorney present during any interrogation. See Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 467-479 (1966). Respondent replied that he "wanted a lawyer before answering any questions."1 This fact was duly recorded in the officer's written report of the incident. In due course, respondent was convicted of the April 16, 1985, burglary.

On April 19, 1985, while respondent was still in custody pursuant to the arrest three days earlier, a different officer interrogated him about a different burglary that had occurred on April 15. That officer was not aware of the fact that respondent had requested the assistance of counsel three days earlier. After advising respondent of his rights, the officer obtained an incriminating statement concerning the April 15 burglary. In the prosecution for that offense, the trial court suppressed that statement. In explaining his ruling, the trial judge relied squarely on the Arizona Supreme Court's opinion in State v. Routhier, 137 Ariz. at 97, 669 P.2d at 75, characterizing the rule of the Edwards case as "clear and unequivocal."2

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The Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the suppression order in a brief opinion, stating:

In Routhier, as in the instant case, the accused was continuously in police custody from the time of asserting his Fifth Amendment right through the time of the impermissible questioning. The coercive [108 S.Ct. 2097] environment never dissipated.

App. to Pet. for Cert. 24. The Arizona Supreme Court denied a petition for review. Id. at 25. We granted certiorari to resolve a conflict with certain other state court decisions.3 484 U.S. 975 (1987). We now affirm.

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II

A major purpose of the Court's opinion in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. at 441-442, was "to give concrete constitutional guidelines for law enforcement agencies and courts to follow."

As we have stressed on numerous occasions, "[o]ne of the principal advantages" of Miranda is the ease and clarity of its application. Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420, 430 (1984); see also New York v. Quarles, [467 U.S. 649, 662-664 (1984)] (concurring opinion); Fare v. Michael C., 442 U.S. [707, 718 (1979)].

Moran v. Burbine, 475 U.S. 412, 425 (1986).

The rule of the Edwards case came as a corollary to Miranda's admonition that "[i]f the individual states that he wants an attorney, the interrogation must cease until an attorney is present." 384 U.S. at 474. In such an instance, we had concluded in Miranda,

[i]f the interrogation continues without the presence of an attorney and a statement is taken, a heavy burden rests on the government to demonstrate that the defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his privilege against self-incrimination and his right to retained or appointed counsel.

Id. at 475. In Edwards, we

reconfirm[ed] these views and, to lend them substance, emphasize[d] that it is inconsistent with Miranda and its progeny for the authorities, at their instance, to reinterrogate an accused in custody if he has clearly asserted his right to counsel.

451 U.S. at 485. We concluded that reinterrogation may only occur if "the accused himself initiates

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further communication, exchanges, or conversations with the police." Ibid. Thus, the prophylactic protections that the Miranda warnings provide to...

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