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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Montejo v. Lousiana: Michigan v. Jackson overruled leaving an interrogation free-for-all

An inculpatory statement given by a defendant to police after the court ordered the appointment of counsel may be introduced at trial as evidence against him. In so holding, the Court overruled Michigan v. Jackson, which presumed that a waiver of the right to counsel was invalid once counsel was appointed at arraignment, and did not require the defendant to invoke the right to counsel. The Court explained that the protections of Miranda, Edwards and Minnick v. Mississippi, sufficed to protect defendants against police badgering that induced them to waive the right to counsel. Under Miranda, the suspect must be advised of his right to counsel. Under Edwards, once a defendant has invoked the right to counsel, interrogation must stop. Under Minnick, no subsequent interrogation may take place until counsel is present. These protections meant that Michigan v. Jackson’s additional prophylactic layer would not be justified by the additional costs of invalidating confessions and letting criminals go free. The Court noted that, on remand, Montejo would be free to argue that he had made a clear assertion of the right to counsel prior to interrogation, and that the subsequent interrogation therefore violated Edwards v. Arizona. Montejo would also be free to argue that any waiver was involuntary because it was based on misrepresentations by police as to whether he was appointed a lawyer.