487 U.S. 285 (1988), 86-7059, Patterson v. Illinois

Docket Nº:No. 86-7059
Citation:487 U.S. 285, 108 S.Ct. 2389, 101 L.Ed.2d 261, 56 U.S.L.W. 4733
Party Name:Patterson v. Illinois
Case Date:June 24, 1988
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 285

487 U.S. 285 (1988)

108 S.Ct. 2389, 101 L.Ed.2d 261, 56 U.S.L.W. 4733




No. 86-7059

United States Supreme Court

June 24, 1988

Argued March 22, 1988



After being informed by police that he had been indicted for murder, petitioner, who was in police custody, twice indicated his willingness to discuss the crime during interviews initiated by the authorities. On both occasions, petitioner was read a form waiving his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, initialed each of the five specific warnings on the form, and signed the form. He then gave inculpatory statements to the authorities. The Illinois trial court denied his motions to suppress his statements on constitutional grounds, and the statements were used against him at trial. The State Supreme Court affirmed his conviction, rejecting his contention that the warnings he received, while adequate to protect his Fifth Amendment rights as guaranteed by Miranda, did not adequately inform him of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

Held: The postindictment questioning that produced petitioner's incriminating statements did not violate his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Pp. 290-300.

(a) Petitioner cannot avail himself of the argument that, because his Sixth Amendment right to counsel arose with his indictment, the police were thereafter barred from initiating questioning, since he at no time sought to have counsel present. The essence of Edwards v. Arizona, [108 S.Ct. 2391] 451 U.S. 477, and its progeny, on which petitioner relies, is the preservation of the integrity of an accused's choice to communicate with police only through counsel. Had petitioner indicated he wanted counsel's assistance, the questioning would have stopped, and further questioning would have been forbidden unless he himself initiated the meeting. Michigan v. Jackson, 475 U.S. 625. However, once an accused "knowingly and intelligently" elects to proceed without counsel, the uncounseled statements he then makes need not be excluded at trial. Pp. 290-291.

(b) Petitioner's contention that his Sixth Amendment rights were violated because he did not "knowingly and intelligently" waive his right to have counsel present during his postindictment questioning is without merit. The constitutional minimum for determining whether a waiver was "knowing and intelligent" is that the accused be made sufficiently aware of his right to have counsel present and of the possible consequences of a decision to forgo the aid of counsel. Here, by admonishing petitioner with the Miranda warnings, respondent met this burden, and petitioner's waiver was valid. First, by telling him that he had the

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rights to consult an attorney, to have a lawyer present while he was questioned, and even to have a lawyer appointed if he could not afford one, the authorities conveyed to him the sum and substance of his Sixth Amendment rights. Second, by informing him that any statement he made could be used against him, the authorities made him aware of the ultimate adverse consequence of his decision to waive his Sixth Amendment rights, and of what a lawyer could "do for him" during postindictment questioning: namely, advise him to refrain from making any such statements. Petitioner's inability here to articulate with precision what additional information should have been provided before he would have been competent to waive his right to counsel supports the conclusion that the information that was provided satisfies the constitutional minimum. Pp. 292-297.

(c) This Court has never adopted petitioner's suggestion that the Sixth Amendment right to counsel is "superior" to or "more difficult" to waive than its Fifth Amendment counterpart. Rather, in Sixth Amendment cases, the court has defined the scope of the right to counsel by a pragmatic assessment of the usefulness of counsel to the accused at the particular stage of the proceedings in question, and the dangers to the accused of proceeding without counsel at that stage. An accused's waiver is "knowing and intelligent" if he is made aware of these basic facts. Miranda warnings are sufficient for this purpose in the postindictment questioning context, because, at that stage, the role of counsel is relatively simple and limited, and the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation are less substantial and more obvious to an accused than they are at trial. Pp. 297-300.

116 Ill.2d 290, 507 N.E.2d 843, affirmed.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and O'CONNOR, SCALIA, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 300. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 301.

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WHITE, J., lead opinion

JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

In this case, we are called on to determine whether the interrogation of petitioner [108 S.Ct. 2392] after his indictment violated his Sixth Amendment right to counsel.


Before dawn on August 21, 1983, petitioner and other members of the "Vice Lords" street gang became involved in a fight with members of a rival gang, the "Black Mobsters." Some time after the fight, a former member of the Black Mobsters, James Jackson, went to the home where the Vice Lords had fled. A second fight broke out there, with petitioner and three other Vice Lords beating Jackson severely. The Vice Lords then put Jackson into a car, drove to the end of a nearby street, and left him face down in a puddle of water. Later that morning, police discovered Jackson, dead, where he had been left.

That afternoon, local police officers obtained warrants for the arrest of the Vice Lords, on charges of battery and mob action, in connection with the first fight. One of the gang members who was arrested gave the police a statement concerning the first fight; the statement also implicated several of the Vice Lords (including petitioner) in Jackson's murder. A few hours later, petitioner was apprehended. Petitioner was informed of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and volunteered to answer questions put to him by the police. Petitioner gave a statement concerning the initial fight between the rival gangs, but denied knowing anything

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about Jackson's death. Petitioner was held in custody the following day, August 22, as law enforcement authorities completed their investigation of the Jackson murder.

On August 23, a Cook County grand jury indicted petitioner and two other gang members for the murder of James Jackson. Police Officer Michael Gresham, who had questioned petitioner earlier, removed him from the lockup where he was being held and told petitioner that, because he had been indicted, he was being transferred to the Cook County jail. Petitioner asked Gresham which of the gang members had been charged with Jackson's murder, and, upon learning that one particular Vice Lord had been omitted from the indictments, asked: "[W]hy wasn't he indicted, he did everything." App. 7. Petitioner also began to explain that there was a witness who would support his account of the crime.

At this point, Gresham interrupted petitioner, and handed him a Miranda waiver form. The form contained five specific warnings, as suggested by this Court's Miranda decision, to make petitioner aware of his right to counsel and of the consequences of any statement he might make to police.1 Gresham read the warnings aloud, as petitioner read along with him. Petitioner initialed each of the five warnings, and signed the waiver form. Petitioner then gave a lengthy statement to police officers concerning the Jackson murder; petitioner's statement described in detail the role of each of the Vice Lords -- including himself -- in the murder of James Jackson.

Later that day, petitioner confessed involvement in the murder for a second time. This confession came in an interview

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with Assistant State's Attorney (ASA) George Smith. At the outset of the interview, Smith reviewed with petitioner the Miranda waiver he had previously signed, and petitioner confirmed that he had signed [108 S.Ct. 2393] the waiver and understood his rights. Smith went through the waiver procedure once again: reading petitioner his rights, having petitioner initial each one, and sign a waiver form. In addition, Smith informed petitioner that he was a lawyer working with the police investigating the Jackson case. Petitioner then gave another inculpatory statement concerning the crime.

Before trial, petitioner moved to suppress his statements, arguing that they were obtained in a manner at odds with various constitutional guarantees. The trial court denied these motions, and the statements were used against petitioner at his trial. The jury found petitioner guilty of murder, and petitioner was sentenced to a 24-year prison term.

On appeal, petitioner argued that he had not "knowingly and intelligently" waived his Sixth Amendment right to counsel before he gave his uncounseled postindictment confessions. Petitioner contended that the warnings he received, while adequate for the purposes of protecting his Fifth Amendment rights as guaranteed by Miranda, did not adequately inform him of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. The Illinois Supreme Court, however, rejected this theory, applying its previous decision in People v. Owens, 102 Ill.2d 88, 464 N.E.2d 261, cert. denied, 469 U.S. 963 (1984), which had held that Miranda warnings were sufficient to make a defendant aware of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel during postindictment questioning. People v. Thomas, 116 Ill.2d 290, 298-300, 507 N.E.2d 843, 846-847 (1987).

In reaching this conclusion, the Illinois...

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