Miranda V. Arizona
This case is one that changed the way the United States Police forces will work forever. Every human in the world has natural born rights. Even people who have been arrested have rights, ‘The rights of the accused’. These rights are the main point of this court case. ‘On the third of March in 1963, an eighteen year old girl, “Lois Ann Jameson” (Sonneborn 6), was leaving Paramount Theaters in downtown Phoenix’ (Sonneborn 7). Jameson would always take the bus home and have to walk a short distance to her home. On this night, she would be walking home and a car pulled up past her nearly hitting her.
She continued walking not realizing that a man had gotten out and was running towards her. He grabbed her around the waist and covered her mouth, taking her back to his car. The assailant then tied her by her hands and feet and proceeded to drive into the desert. The man later stopped the car, got into the back seat, undressed Lois, and raped her. After that he then drove her back into her neighborhood and dropped her off a few houses down from her home. As she left he said, ‘Whether you tell your mother or not is none of my business, but pray for me,’ (Sonneborn 7).
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Lois ran to door banging and screaming, her sister answered the door and Lois tells her what has been done to her. Sarah, her sister, called the police and at 2:08 am an officer arrived. Lois described the assailant as the following, “He was a Mexican man about twenty-seven or twenty-eight with a slight build. He was unshaven and was wearing glasses, jeans, and a t-shirt,” (Sonneborn 8). The next day, the police had her look at a line up of five possible men. But, none of them were her attacker. A polygraph test was done on Lois to se if she was telling the truth, but it was inconclusive.
After she had been raped, Lois was terrified to walk home alone again. So her brother-in-law said he would walk her home every night. On March 9th, a week later, he was waiting for her at the bus stop and saw a car that resembled the description of the car she had given to the police. He went to get a closer look at the vehicle and saw that there were a number of similarities. After Lois had gotten off the bus, he took her to see if it indeed was the car that the assailant drove her in. But as they got nearer, the car started and sped away.
Her brother was able to copy the license plate and gave it to the police. The search came up with the name Twila N. Hoffman as the owner. Officer Cooley, the lead Detective, with Detective Young, went to investigate further. The two detectives went to the address and discovered from the neighbors that she, with her boyfriend Ernesto Miranda, had moved. The officers looked into Miranda’s background and saw he had been in trouble with the law before. He had been convicted of several serious crimes including attempted rape and robbery.
Using the postal system, the officers were able to find the new address of the Miranda and Hoffman. When the officers got to the address, they saw the old green Packard and knew they had found who they were looking for. The officers told Miranda they needed him to come with them to the police station. Miranda did not know he had a choice on going or not. Later at the station, Miranda was placed in a line up with three other possible suspects. Miranda was the only one wearing glasses, as in the description given to the police a week earlier.
Jameson was then told to look at the men and see if one was the man who attacked her. She couldn’t make a positive identification on one of them, but she did say that Miranda’s features resembled that of her attacker. After that Miranda was taken back into the interrogation room for further questioning. Miranda asked, “How did I do? ”(Sonneborn 13). He was not sure if he had been chosen. “One of the officers replied, ‘You flunked,’ even though Jameson had not made a positive identification, (Sonneborn 13). Miranda was unaware that he was not directly identified.
Miranda assumed that he was caught. There was no video or audio recording, but if there had been the interrogator would have told him that he had the right to remain silent since anything that he said could be used against him in court. “Nonetheless, detectives began questioning Miranda, and he signed a confession approximately two hours later. ”(Riley 11). Miranda was not completely clear that he had the right to remain silent and also the right to an attorney even if he couldn’t pay for one. That same afternoon, he was taken to jail. And two days later he was taken to trial.
Miranda was being charged with rape and robbery. Since he could not afford to pay for his own lawyer, one was appointed. The lawyer assigned was Alvin Moore. Most court-appointed attorneys were usually young and paid poorly, but not in this case. Moore was seventy-three years old and had forty years experience practicing law. Moore thought of using an insanity defense because of Miranda’s mental problems. But, because Miranda had been in and out of jail, it was decided that he knew right from wrong, so that would not work. The trial went on. Moore realized that he didn’t have much to work with.
Being that the prosecution had a written confession signed by Miranda, Moore knew there was not n=much that he could do to convince the jury. On June 19th, Miranda was on trial for robbery. It took only a few hours for him to be convicted. The next day he went on trial for the rape of Lois Ann Jameson. The prosecution called four witnesses to testify. Among them were Lois Ann Jameson, Sarah Jameson, Detective Cooley, and Detective Young. Lois was called to the stand to describe what had happened to her. She spoke very quietly and the prosecutor asked her to speak up. While describing the assault, she began crying.
The jury was affected by her testimony. Moore however called no witnesses to the stand. “He brought up the fact that she had no bruises on her body after the rape,”(Sonneborn 18). Moore was trying to show that it was possible that it may not have been rape. He also asked Miranda’s confession to be thrown out be cause it was obtained with Miranda not knowing he had the right not to incriminate himself. While cross-examining Cooley, “… the lawyer asked, ‘Is it not your practice to advise people you arrest that they are entitled to the services of an attorney before they make a statement? (Sonneborn 18). Cooley said no. Moore brought out that the United States Supreme Court say a man is entitled to an attorney at the time of his arrest, but truly the United States Supreme court said no such thing. The Jury took five hours to decide on a verdict. They found Miranda guilty of kidnapping and raping Jameson. Miranda was sentenced to twenty to thirty years in state prison on June 27th, 1963. at the time, it looked like Miranda would be spending much of his life locked up. Moore had not succeeded in convincing the jury that Ernesto Arturo Miranda was innocent.
He believed that there was still a way that he could help Miranda. Moore decided that it was worth as shot to appeal the case to the Arizona Supreme court. Moore, in making his decision, referred to another case. The case of Gideon V. Wainwright. In this case the defendant was charged for burglarizing a pool hall. When he asked for an attorney because he was too poor, he was denied because he was not facing the death penalty. At that time a defendant could not get a court-appointed attorney un less they were facing punishment by death. The defendant was found guilty and sentenced to serve five years in prison.
Two years later it was appealed to the United States Supreme Court. “Gideon was unfairly denied a lawyer and was ordered to get a new trial,”(Sonneborn 22). “Moore saw similarities between Gideon’s case and his client’s,”(Sonneborn 22). Moore planned to use this as help in appealing the case of Miranda. But unlike Gideon, Miranda never asked to see an attorney and that he “confessed” to the crime at his own will. The Court was not convinced with his by Moore’s argument. “According to Arizona law at the time, any voluntary confession could be presented to a jury as evidence,” (Sonneborn 22).
The Court saw no valid reason to overturn the decision. Yet another similar case was that of Escobedo V. Illinois. Defendant, Escobedo, was arrested for murder and he asked to see his lawyer. The police lied saying his lawyer did not want to help him. But when his lawyer heard of his arrest, he rushed to the station to advise him. The police refused to let him in, doing this caused Escobedo to confess and was sentenced to twenty years. In all three cases the defendants were not given attorneys at the time of their arrests.
This violated their rights. The Supreme court moved in favor of the defendant, in that they had the right to an attorney at the time of their arrest. For Escobedo, this meant a new trial with proper representation. Now there was hope for Ernesto Miranda. His situation was similar to that of Escobedo, he did not have representation at the time during the police questioning. While Miranda was waiting for a decision from the Supreme Court, his case caught the attention of attorney Robert Cocoran, the head of the American Civil Liberties Union.
This organization is dedicated to protecting the civil right of American’s, which also includes the rights of people accused of crimes. Cocoran brought this case to the attention of a bunch of other lawyers to try to take this case to the Supreme Court. The two that decided to take this case for Miranda’s appeal were John J. Flynn and John P. Frank. Flynn was a skilled in criminal cases and Frank was great when it came to appeals. They agreed to take this case and to do it pro bono, which meant they would do it for free. When the news got to Miranda he as very excited and was very grateful to the two men. Miranda was still adjusting to the idea of being locked away in prison for a long time when he got the news. With this turn for the better, Miranda’s hope was restored. Miranda immediately sent the men a letter thanking them. “for months before their Court appearance, Flynn and Frank worked hard to prepare. They first had to write a brief outlining the reasons why Miranda should be given a new trial,”(Sonneborn 28). A brief is a written legal argument. It had to state also why Miranda was believed to be innocent.
The men did not directly say that they believed he was innocent, but that his civil rights were violated because he was not told his rights and he confessed not knowing them or that he had the right to an attorney while being interrogated by police. “It was brought out that a confession is involuntary if it is obtained by any sort of violence or threats or by any direct or implied promises of immunity [protection] or benefit, or by any improper influence…” (Riley 60). The lawyers focused on the two amendments that were broken-the Sixth and the Fourteenth.
The sixth amendment deals with the right of people accused of crimes. This was the one that Flynn and Frank focused on mainly. But the Fourteenth was important as well to their case. “It was added to the constitution in 1868, just three years after the civil war ended,” (Sonneborn 30). It dealt with not letting states forbid right to any citizen. There were also opinions on the case. Several other briefs were submitted to the Supreme court on this case. One brief was submitted by former Attorney General Gary Nelson. He was representing the state of Arizona on the case.
He brought out that Miranda was never beaten or threatened or physically hurt when police obtained the confession. He made a strong argument. He argued that if attorneys were allowed in the interrogation room that a confession would never be obtained and most criminals would go free. All of the lawyers from the three previous cases also submitted briefs on this upcoming case. Frank and Flynn spent many long months to prepare for this case. “On the court date, Flynn and Frank entered the Supreme Court Building. They walked down the Great Hall, lined with busts of former justices to the courtroom. (Sonneborn 34). The courtroom had seating for three hundred. But now, the case and also the fate of Ernesto Miranda, would rest on the presentation of the case. Frank and Flynn prepared even for the possibility that the judge may interrupt to ask a question. Flynn, having fifteen years experience as a criminal law lawyer, would speak first to the court since he had more hands-on experience with the situation. The justices would be far more interested with what goes on inside of the police interrogation rooms, and Flynn is better suited to handle such a matter.
The court, after hearing the case takes more then three long months before they are finally ready to announce their verdict. The justices found that the Fifth Amendment of the defendant, Ernesto Arturo Miranda was violated. Lawyers and police officers were eagerly anticipating the decision of the justices. Even people outside the law were waiting to hear the verdict on the case. “In the early 1960’s crime was on the rise. As a result, law and order became a hot political issue. ” (Sonneborn 39). Some politicians even began to say the Supreme Court was making it hard for police officers to fight crime.
On Monday June 13th, 1966, The Supreme Court was finally ready to reveal the verdict to the public. The courtroom was packed out on that day with no surprise. Within just a few minutes the majority’s opinion became clear. “Five of the justices- Hugo Black, William Douglas, William Brennan, Abe Fortas, and Earl Warren- agreed that Miranda and also the other defendants deserved new trials. ” (Sonneborn 41). They ruled that the confessions of each defendant should NOT haven used as evidence because of the fact that their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent was violated.
Also noted that the police should have informed them that anything they say could be used against them in court. So, in conclusion, the three defendants- Miranda, Escobedo, and Gideon- were entitled to new trials because of their violated rights. Miranda’s case would forever be echoed through time and through police forces. Miranda’s conviction was overturned for both cases. It just goes to show, if you cut corners in important matters, it can back fire and turn out the complete opposite of how you wanted. All laws should be obeyed by everyone and rights of all should be respected to the fullest extent.