Supreme Court Will Hear Another Miranda Case: Where Criminal Defendant Neither Waived Nor Invoked Rights, Is Further Interrogation Proper?

The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in Berghuis v. Thompkins. The Court will decide what the default rule ought to be where a suspect confirms that he understands his rights, but neither waives nor invokes them.

In this case, Thompkins was read his Miranda rights and confirmed that he understood them, but then was uncommunicative for nearly three hours of interrogation before answering “Yes” to a question regarding whether he prayed for forgiveness for “shooting that boy down.” He nodded his head every so often and declined a peppermint, but was otherwise withdrawn, refusing to sign an advice of rights form or anything else. His statement was used at trial and a jury convicted him.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals below reversed the denial of his federal habeas petition, holding that the state had failed to show that Thompkins’s course of conduct amounted to an implied waiver of his rights. We hope the Supreme Court remembers its words from Miranda: “[A] valid waiver will not be presumed simply from the silence of the accused after warnings are given or simply from the facts that a confession was in fact eventually obtained.”

The 6th Circuit’s opinion below is here.
The Petition for Certiorari is here.
The Brief in Opposition is here.
The Petitioner’s Reply Brief is here.
Connecticut and six other states’ Amicus Brief is here.