The Corner

The one and only.

For the People Who Gave Us Miranda, Miranda Is Never Enough


Does anything tug at your heartstrings quite like the plight of Ropel Phillipos, the 19-year-old “adolescent” arrested and charged with lying to agents investigating the bombing of the Boston Marathon by his sometime pal, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev? Fox News reports that, besides describing as “refutable” the allegation that he gave investigators conflicting accounts about the effort to cover Tsarnaev’s tracks, his lawyers also contend:

“This case is about a frightened and confused 19 year old who was subjected to intense questioning and interrogation, without the benefit of counsel, and in the context of one of the worst attacks against the nation,” lawyers Derege Demissie and Susan Church wrote. “The weight of the federal government under such circumstances can have a devastatingly crushing effect on the ability of an adolescent to withstand the enormous pressure and respond rationally.”

Notice what they don’t say? Yes, he was “subjected to intense questioning and interrogation, without the benefit of counsel,” but not because he didn’t know his rights. The lawyers do not claim that the college student and (like Tsarnaev) graduate of the prestigious Cambridge Rindge and Latin School was not given Miranda warnings. That is, he was told he could have a free lawyer if he wanted one, and that he did not have to answer questions if the did not want to, but he made the decision to submit to an interview without counsel — during which he evidently misled the agents he knew to be scrambling in response to a terrorist attack.

The Fifth Amendment does not require Miranda warnings — at least that’s what the Supreme Court said for about 30 years after they concocted Miranda out of thin air and pseudo-science. The Constitution forbids coercing a person to provide testimony against himself — i.e., overbearing his will. The Miranda fiction established by the Lawyer Left claims that if the police do not tell you that you have a right to refuse to answer questions and to the free assistance of a lawyer (i.e., to tell you to clam up), you have perforce been coerced into answering. This claim is so ridiculous that the Supreme Court had to start legislating exceptions to Miranda almost as soon as the justices imposed it. But enough is never enough. So now, even when police comply with Miranda — which is overkill anyway since most Americans of this adolescent’s can recite it more readily than they can the words of the national anthem — that, too, is insufficient in the eyes of Miranda champions to guard against coerced confessions.  

The Lawyer Left gave us Miranda, but remember that, for them, the “organic” Constitution is always evolving. They will not be satisfied until the courts require that defense lawyers be imposed on post-arrest interrogations, whether the arrestee wants one or not. That will certainly make the interrogations much shorter.