Miranda Rights Violation: US

March 1, 2024

On June 23, 2022, Justice Samuel Alito delivered the majority opinion in the Supreme court of United States, reversing the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit's decision, holding that a Miranda violation does not provide a basis for a §1983 claim. The question on the issue was "Whether a plaintiff may state a claim for relief against a law enforcement officer under Section 1983 based simply on an officer's failure to provide the warnings prescribed in Miranda”. Thus the police cannot be sued for not reading the Miranda Rights.

"Section 1983 " refers to lawsuits brought under Section 1983 (Civil action for deprivation of rights) of Title 42 of the United States Code (42 U.S.C. §1983) which provides ‘ an individual the right to sue state government employees and others acting "under color of state law" for civil rights violations’. Section 1983 does not provide civil rights; it is a means to enforce civil rights that already exist.

Case background: Terence Tekoh was employed at a medical centre in Los Angeles when a patient accused him of sexual assault. Hospital staff reported the allegation and the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Deputy Carlos Vega charged him and Vega questioned Tekoh without advising him of his Miranda rights.

What are Miranda rights?

In the United States, the Miranda warning is a type of notification customarily given by police to criminal suspects in police custody (or in a custodial interrogation) advising them of their right to silence and, in effect, protection from self-incrimination; that is, their right to refuse to answer questions or provide information to law enforcement or other officials. These rights are often referred to as Miranda rights. The Miranda rights came from the most landmark decisions , Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), of the  U.S. Supreme Court in which it was ruled that the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution restricts prosecutors from using a person's statements made in response to interrogation in police custody as evidence at their trial unless they can show that the person was informed of the right to consult with an attorney before and during questioning, and of the right against self-incrimination before police questioning, and that the defendant not only understood these rights, but voluntarily waived them. The Miranda warning is part of a preventive criminal procedure rule that law enforcement are required to administer to protect an individual who is in custody and subject to direct questioning or its functional equivalent from a violation of their Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination.

The court mentioned that the federal statute on civil rights lawsuits (42 U. S. C. § 1983) allows people to sue only for violations of federal constitutional rights or federal laws, thus the Fifth Amendment rights is not a right itself and since a Miranda violation isn't a violation of a right or a law, it can't give rise to a federal lawsuit.

The Court also said that even if the Miranda rule could be considered a federal law, the "remedy" provided by that law is simply to keep a suspect's statement out of court.

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