LOS ANGELES - The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California applauded the U.S. Supreme Court's dual affirmation of suspects' Miranda rights today. In Dickerson, Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote for the majority that law enforcement officers must warn criminal suspects of their rights under the landmark 1966 Miranda decision, including their right to remain silent. In California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ) v. Butts, a case filed by the ACLU of Southern California against the Los Angeles and Santa Monica Police Departments, the Supreme court refused to hear the appeal pressed by the cities, letting stand a ruling by a federal court in Los Angeles that police interrogation after a suspect has requested an attorney or invoked his or her right to remain silent violates a person's rights under Miranda.
In CACJ v. Butts, the ACLU of Southern California filed suit on behalf of two men who had repeatedly requested the assistance of an attorney. In both cases, police officers continued their interrogation, assuring the men that whatever they said would not be used against them. In fact, their subsequent statements were used in court.
"When a suspect invokes his or her right to remain silent," said Mark Rosenbaum, Legal Director of the ACLU of Southern California, "the police must then remain silent, too. In denying certiorari in the Butts case and in ruling as it did in Dickerson, the Supreme Court has affirmed that Miranda has become as much a part of American culture as apple pie and baseball. The position of the Los Angeles and Santa Monica Police Departments that they could deliberately ignore Miranda at will is known to be false to any viewer of a T.V. cop drama."
"Here in Southern California we're seeing what happens when police aren't given clear guidelines and held to them scrupulously," said Ramona Ripston, Executive Director of the ACLU of Southern California. "Those basic guidelines were preserved today by the Supreme Court."