Saturday, November 16, 2013

Supreme Court Attacks the Fifth Amendment, Again

Staff Writer, DL Mullan
Current Events
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A man is stopped by the police who believe he might be the suspect in two murders. Since the man answered some questions but became silent and acted suspicious, prosecutes can now use a person's silence against them in a court of law.
Justice Alito announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion in which The Chief Justice and Justice Kennedy join. 

Without being placed in custody or receiving Miranda warnings, petitioner voluntarily answered the questions of a police officer who was investigating a murder. But petitioner balked when the officer asked whether a ballistics test would show that the shell casings found at the crime scene would match petitioner’s shotgun. Petitioner was subsequently charged with murder, and at trial prosecutors argued that his reaction to the officer’s question suggested that he was guilty. Petitioner claims that this argument violated the Fifth Amendment, which guarantees that “[n]o person . . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” 

Petitioner’s Fifth Amendment claim fails because he did not expressly invoke the privilege against self-incrimination in response to the officer’s question. It has long been settled that the privilege “generally is not self-executing” and that a witness who desires its protection “ ‘must claim it.’ ” Minnesota v. Murphy, 465 U. S. 420, 425, 427 (1984) (quoting United States v. Monia, 317 U. S. 424, 427 (1943) ). Although “no ritualistic formula is necessary in order to invoke the privilege,” Quinn v. United States, 349 U. S. 155, 164 (1955) , a witness does not do so by simply standing mute. Because petitioner was required to assert the privilege in order to benefit from it, the judgment of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejecting petitioner’s Fifth Amendment claim is affirmed.

Let's take a look at Miranda Rights for a moment:

Miranda v. Arizona (1966)

It isn't enough that confessions obtained by law enforcement officials are not coerced; they also must be obtained from suspects who know their rights. Otherwise, unscrupulous prosecutors have too much power to railroad innocent suspects. As Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote for the Miranda majority:
Assessments of the knowledge the defendant possessed, based on information as to his age, education, intelligence, or prior contact with authorities, can never be more than speculation; a warning is a clear-cut fact. More important, whatever the background of the person interrogated, a warning at the time of the interrogation is indispensable to overcome its pressures and to insure that the individual knows he is free to exercise the privilege at that point in time.
The ruling, though controversial, has stood for nearly a half-century—and the Miranda rule has become a near-universal law enforcement practice.

 Now let's look at the Fifth Amendment:
"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." Fifth Amendment, U.S. Constitution
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. - See more at: http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment5/amendment.html#sthash.YK5jLNao.dpuf
When is a Right a privilege?Justice Alito believes that if you refuse to incriminate yourself and remain silent that you are guilty. Your mannerisms are now under scrutiny. He states an American must invoke the Fifth Amendment even when not in custody of police. When a person is asked a question that may incriminate them being silence IS invoking your Fifth Amendment Right. A Right doesn't appear or disappear upon command. It's there forever. Executed already by the sheer fact that it's written in the Bill of Rights.

 "...nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself," but when your mannerisms become suspect, that is being compelled to incriminate yourself especially questioned by police that puts someone under duress and their nervous composure is now an offense against them.

Since Justice Alito does not know the Bill of Rights or how to enforce the Constitution, I suggest someone needs to find him and the others who supported this senile decision a new career. Obviously, Supreme Court Justices seem to believe that too many freedoms and rights and protections are somehow erroneous in their application to every citizen.

When it comes down to it, people are presumed INNOCENT before PROVEN guilty. I don't believe someone's fidgeting or loss of words automatically designates a guilty verdict. 

What happens when someone who can't understand or speak English is questioned? Are they going to jail for murder too? Or, if a mentally challenged person is questioned? Will they be assumed guilty before proven innocent because the police want to close a case?

I believe the Supreme Court handed law enforcement and prosecutor's offices a huge coup de théâtre. Now police can suspend the Miranda Warning for as long as they want to see if you act in a way they can use against you in court, which is against the Fifth Amendment and Right of innocence in due process. 

The sad fact is that Americans should never talk to police without a lawyer present and invoke their Fifth Amendment Rights even at traffic stops. This is ridiculous.

Watch further analysis on Buzzsaw.

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