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U.S. Supreme Court

Justices Skeptical of Defense Arguments in Miranda Delay Case

Posted Oct 6, 2009 7:25 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday pondered what kind of rule should apply when a suspect who invokes his Miranda right to a lawyer is questioned again two years and seven months later.

The justices “seemed skeptical of defense lawyers' arguments” that police should not have been allowed to question the suspect, Michael Blaine Shatzer, the Associated Press reports.

Shatzer made incriminating statements in the second round of questioning about sexual abuse of his son. Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler argued the long break in custody left police free to renew the questioning, the Washington Post reports. Public defender Celia Davis countered that a suspect’s request for a lawyer should continue to prevent police questioning even 40 years later.

Some justices suggested imposing a time limit on how long a request for a lawyer should be valid, AP reports. Justice John Paul Stevens suggested a different rule. Maybe suspects shouldn’t have to talk to police, he said, and if they do, they are waiving their Miranda rights.

The case is Maryland v. Shatzer.

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