Maryland v. Shatzer, (2010) – 130 S. Ct. 1213


Case Name: Maryland v. Shatzer
Date: 2010
Jurisdiction: Supreme Court of the United States
Rule: If a Defendant invokes his rights, and then experiences a break of 14 days or more from Miranda custody, the police have scrupulously honored his invocation, and may approach the Defendant for questioning again.
Brief Analysis: Shatzer experienced a break in Miranda custody lasting more than two weeks between the first and second attempts at interrogation, Edwards does not mandate suppression of his 2006 statements.
Topic Area: 5th Amendment


Facts: In 2003, a police detective tried to question respondent Shatzer, who was incarcerated at a Maryland prison pursuant to a prior conviction, about allegations that he had sexually abused his son. Shatzer **1216 invoked his Miranda right to have counsel present during interrogation, so the detective terminated the interview. Shatzer was released back into the general prison population, and the investigation was closed. Another detective reopened the investigation in 2006 and attempted to interrogate Shatzer, who was still incarcerated. Shatzer waived his Miranda rights and made inculpatory statements. The trial court refused to suppress those statements, reasoning that Edwards did not apply because Shatzer had experienced a break in custody prior to the 2006 interrogation. Shatzer was convicted of sexual child abuse.
Court(s) Below: Defendant was convicted in Maryland for sexual abuse. The Maryland Court of Appeals reversed and remanded because the mere passage of time does not constitute a break in custody.
D Argument:
Rule: The Edwards rule, under which a suspect who has invoked his right to the presence of counsel during custodial interrogation is not subject to further interrogation until either counsel has been made available or the suspect himself further initiates exchanges with the police, does not apply if a break in custody lasting 14 days has occurred, and

Defendant’s return to the general prison population, after he had invoked his right to the presence of counsel during custodial interrogation regarding allegations of criminal conduct separate from the conduct underlying the defendant’s convictions, constituted a break in custody.

Analysis: “[W]hen an accused has invoked his right to have counsel present during custodial interrogation, a valid waiver of that right cannot be established by showing only that he responded to further police-initiated custodial interrogation even if he has been advised of his rights…. [He] 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.” The rationale of Edwards is that once a suspect indicates that “he is not capable of undergoing [custodial] questioning without advice of counsel,” “any subsequent waiver that has come at the authorities’ behest, and not at the suspect’s own instigation, is itself the product of the ‘inherently compelling pressures’ and not the purely voluntary choice of the suspect.” A judicially crafted rule is “justified only by reference to its prophylactic purpose,” and applies only where its benefits outweigh its costs. The Edwards ‘ presumption of involuntariness has the incidental effect of “conserv[ing] judicial resources which would otherwise be expended in making difficult determinations of voluntariness.” Its fundamental purpose, however, is to “[p]reserv[e] the integrity of an accused’s choice to communicate with police only through counselby “prevent[ing] police from badgering a defendant into waiving his previously asserted Miranda rights,” Thus, the benefits of the rule are measured by the number of coerced confessions it suppresses that otherwise would have been admitted. When a suspect has been released from his pretrial custody and has returned to his normal life for some time before the later attempted interrogation, there is little reason to think that his change of heart regarding interrogation without counsel has been coerced. It is far fetched to think that a police officer’s asking the suspect whether he would like to waive his Miranda rights will “wear down the accused,”

Interrogated suspects who have previously been convicted of crime live in prison. When they are released back into the general prison population, they return to their accustomed surroundings and daily routine—they regain the degree of control they had over their lives prior to the interrogation. Sentenced prisoners, in contrast to the Miranda paradigm, are not isolated with their accusers. They live among other inmates, guards, and workers, and often can receive visitors and communicate with people on the outside by mail or telephone. Thus, they have returned to their normal lives for some time. Being an in inmate does not change the anlysis

Concurrence: Thomas – Agrees with the judgment, but doesn’t want to extend Edwards (14 days) beyond the specific facts in that case. Thomas has an issue with where 14 days came from, as it assumes that this is “plenty of time to shake off the residual effects of interrogation”.

Steven – Dislikes the hard line of 14 days. “The most troubling aspect of the Court’s time-based rule is that it disregards the compulsion caused by a second (or third, or fourth) interrogation of an indigent suspect who was told that if he requests a lawyer, one will be provided for him. When police tell an indigent suspect that he has the right to an attorney, that he is not required to speak without an attorney present, and that an attorney will be provided to him at no cost before questioning, the police have made a significant promise. If they cease questioning and then reinterrogate the suspect 14 days later without providing him with a lawyer, the suspect is likely to feel that the police lied to him and that he really does not have any right to a lawyer.”

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