Public Safety Exception To Miranda Rights Rule Employed With Tsarnaev | Weasel Zippers

During the press conference this evening, the question of whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been read Miranda rights arose. Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. Attorney, noted that they had not read him the rights, but were employing the “public safety exception”. The following is a good explanation of the exception.

via Public Safety Exception To Miranda Rights Rule Employed With Tsarnaev | Weasel Zippers.

Click through to read a fair explanation of the “public safety” exception. But as always, I’m deeply concerned at ever expanding “execptions” eroding the rights of citizens (and permanent legal residents, for that matter).

I would say as a rule of thumb, anything asked and answered outside of Miranda, you’d better be prepared for it to be suppressed at trial. And that’s not a “crook getting off on a technicality.” That’s a fundamental protection of our rights.

23 thoughts on “Public Safety Exception To Miranda Rights Rule Employed With Tsarnaev | Weasel Zippers”

    1. Carmin Ortiz- took me a second to recognize her name. She was the U.S. Attorney accused of over prosecution (persecution?) of Aaron Swartz.

  1. Any law enforcement official would be an unprofessional idiot to “mirandized” a suspect except as legal circumstances dictated. As to a “public safety exception” being invoked, that will be explored in the subsequent legal proceedings, if, in fact, it was invoked.
    I’m sure we’re all impressed with your desire to see due process observed. Do you have a point, other than drawing attention to yourself?

    1. Oh, I don’t know. I thought maybe some of my readers might be interested to know what was being discussed in one of the highest profile cases around. Or allow them to infer the dangers of a slippery slope? Because the previously sacrosanct right against self incrimination has seen a touch of erosion already. Just how will future courts decide the public safety exception? Weapons of mass destruction? Ticking time bombs? Or how about a kidnap victim? Or maybe the suspect ditched a gun that a child might find? Where do we draw the line?

      And I understand the rules on when police must Mirandize a suspect. I’m not against the police investigating or interrogating suspects. But the fact is, it is very tempting to bend the rules here, and that sets a bad precedent.

      Further, I’d hoped to inspire a thoughtful conversation among readers regarding civil liberties, public safety, and the state.

      Unfortunately, it appears I’ve just attracted an asshole.

  2. On the other hand Xbradtc, the nation appeared to have survived just fine until 1966. IMO when a guilty (let us grant that point) person confesses to the guilt and gets off due to a lack of “Miranda” I am unable to see the equity, social good or fairness involved.

    1. Fair enough. As I say, I’m not opposed to to police, investigation or interrogation. I’d even go so far to say the exclusionary rule may not have been the best choice for the courts to make. Previously, they were liable for civil damages. Which hurts a prosecuting authority worse, letting a criminal go, or having to pay money? Especially if limited sovereign immunity is not in place? Which approach better balances the need to respect individual rights with the cause of safe communities? I dunno. It’s a topic for discussion. And Mr. Pate was well on his way to joining that discussion right up to his final need to snark.

    2. Not sure if you were a black guy in Alabama in the ’30s you would say “survived just fine”.

      The inequity of “social good of fairness” is immaterial to the protection of civil liberties.

    3. Here in Wisconsin, we have always had to read someone being arrested his rights, even before Miranda. Any custodial interview must also have the Miranda rights diven to the interviewee. We have rules here, and we play by them, and don’t bend them because it’s convienient. Bending the rules will come back and bite you. After I tell you that you are under arrest, and have cuffed you, I will read you your rights.

  3. The belief held by many that Miranda must be given at arrest is in error. It does not have to be given until questioning starts. As a police officer, I deliberatly would not give Miranda. Let them run off at the mouth and brag. Spontanious utterance is admissable. Can always be given later. Send his sorry ass to Gitmo in either case.

    1. Send his sorry ass to Gitmo in either case.

      Really? Ship an American citizen arrested for crimes committed wholly within the States, arrested by police forces, not by military forces.

      Why don’t we give him a fair trail, then execute him?

    2. Weathtd, the police (or whatever law enforcement agency involved) already hold enough power. Miranda gave the average citizen some needed protection.

    3. Depends upon departmental policy. People still run off at the mouth, even after being Mirandized, thinking it’s thier word against mine. It’s thier word against mine, and the mike in the squad’s cage, actually.

    4. Xbradtc, execution works for me. As for him being a citizen, I question his validity. He became a citizen only last year. His recent actions throw doubt on his truthfullness on the oath he had to take which would invalidate his naturalization.
      Bostonmaggie, I agree with you. Miranda and the cases preceding it were about out of control police behavior. My point was Miranda is NOT required at arrest, only once suspect or arrestee is questioned. Some of my best evidence was the result of arrestee bragging in the back of the patrol car on the way to the jail because TV had them convinced that anything they said would be thrown out because I had not read them their rights.

  4. URR, I’m not sure why one would conflate the changes in black civil rights with the Miranda rule (which was only a -not unanimous- decision by the Supremes and may yet change). As to individual civil liberties -I rather doubt that the Founding Fathers would applaud the current state of “Criminal Justice”, including the Miranda Rule. The scale needs to tilt back to “Victim Justice” IMO. If I had to choose between what my knowledge and experience lead me to believe the intent of the Founding Fathers was, versus any given iteration of the Supreme Court, I think I will go with the original Old White Guys.

    1. Really? You think the “Old White Guys” took the trouble to enumerate our rights so it could be kept secret?

      I don’t get people who think Miranda protects criminals. It’s meant to level the playing field between agents of the government (local, state, munis, FBI, whoever) who are quite familiar with the letter of the law and the average citizen who may or may not be aware.

      We know the police play games like not following the Miranda Rule hoping people will be so agitated that they make mistakes.

      Miranda isn’t going anywhere, nor should it.

    2. Miranda is a bulwark against violation of Constitutional rights. Under both the Fifth (self-incrimination) and Sixth (right to counsel) Amendments. Both of those were written by white guys. For a reason. The authority of the state (police) is limited in that circumstance, with a requirement to inform a suspect of those rights before interrogation.

      Not conflating anything. Merely pointing out that, before Miranda, protection of those rights was inconsistent, to say the least, especially if you were someone whom I mentioned in those places and those times.

  5. Oh Many Wise Ones (except for 1….the newbie). In the struggle to fight against my Texas roots and drag the guy behind a horse until the rope is frayed, I of course remembered where I am, how I grew up, and how sometimes right doesn’t necessarily fit the righteous form. I’m a paratrooper judged by many as either bird excrement or one who has landed far too much on the head so I have to work off of the KISS principle. In as much as I may not like it, the young one is a legal resident who committed a crime on US soil and as much as I would like to bend the rule in this case I can’t find it in myself to go the extra mile of conviction to do that. Had he been in another country and proximal to known terrorist entities then of course, different situation….smoke him with prejudice. In this country, never mind Boston of all places, I believe it is incumbent to provide the legal letter of the law to that b _ _ _ _ r d. Its what I grew up believing that its what we’re about and whether it ends up a halo, or millstone its how we purport ourselves. I do wish Mr. Pate would make HIS point….I got all the others whether I agree or not. Would someone advise if this public safety exception is new, or part of the Patriot Act (which at some levels I have no problem with).

    1. SFC,

      I believe the “public safety exception” has been around since the early 80s. It is limited to only those conditions which pose an immediate mortal danger, and once that has been handled, Miranda must be adhered to. In the search for secondary devices, the exception may have been appropriate. Once that has been rectified, the exception no longer is, and any questions in interrogation that are answered prior to reading Miranda have generally been inadmissible. Much as we would all like to hang the no-good bastard, he deserves a fair trial by an impartial jury, just like thje rest of us, as you rightfully point out.

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