BOSTON BOMBER AND MIRANDA

The attention given by the press and, it seems, the government, to the issue of whether or not the surviving Boston bomber is being read Miranda warnings has got to be one of the stupidest things for people to waste time thinking about, ever.

Legally, it makes zero difference in his case. Zero. None. Zip. 

First, let's start with the basic idea and thereby begin to shed the outlandish popular notions about Miranda: Miranda warnings NEVER need to be read to anyone as an automatic requirement of arrest.

Miranda warnings only need to be read when the government wants to interrogate people who are in custody AND the government cares about being able to use the suspect's responses as part of its proof at a trial, in the government's case.

Therefore, if the government is interested in information for information's sake, they are free to interrogate someone as much as they like without Miranda warnings. If the Government has a case strong enough against a defendant that statements he makes are unnecessary to convict him, then there will be no penalty for the Government because the suspect's responses to interrogation will not be used in the government's case.

Second, if the defendant were to testify in the defense case, Miranda warnings are irrelevant.  Assume a suspect was not provided Miranda warnings and he made a long incriminating statement.  A court determines that Miranda warnings were not given when they should have been.  Therefore, the Court rules that the statements are inadmissible at trial.  Since the Government has more evidence than just the confession, the Government moves forward with the trial.  At trial, the defendant takes the stand and testifies that he didn't do it.  

Well, under current law, the Government would then be completely free to cross examine the defendant all about his confession EVEN THOUGH THE STATEMENT WAS RULED INADMISSIBLE BECAUSE OF A FAILURE TO READ MIRANDA WARNINGS.

This rule leads many law enforcement agencies to conclude that Miranda is essentially an optional provision because if they choose to violate Miranda and then get a confession, the confession will probably keep the defendant from testifying, even if the judge rules that the confession can't be used by the Government directly.

Further, media reports seem to be leaving the impression that if they read him the Miranda warnings some insane magical spell will be cast.  That is plain ridiculous. Police read Miranda warnings all the time and people sing like songbirds anyway. People already know about Miranda. People inevitably have ignorant ideas about the meaning and effect of Miranda warnings. But they know about them. If a suspect chooses to remain silent or request an attorney, he can do that whether or not Miranda warnings are read to him.

The police have discovered just how easy it is to read someone Miranda warnings and get them to make statements anyway.  It can be as simple as saying, "Sure you can remain silent, but everyone will think you are guilty unless you talk to us" or "The judge will go easier on you if you cooperate", or maybe in the Boston Bomber case, "If you talk to us now, maybe we won't seek the death penalty against you."  There is nothing wrong with the police saying any of these things or plenty more deceptive half truths that would probably horrify most people.

This whole non-issue is maddening ignorant nonsense.

No case in the history of the United States has ever been dismissed because of a failure to read Miranda warnings. Dismissal of a case is not the remedy for a violation of Miranda. In fact, when the Supreme Court decided Miranda, it did not dismiss Mr. Miranda's case. The Supreme Court sent the case back to Arizona for a retrial. Arizona tried Mr. Miranda again, convicted him again, and sent him to prison for a long time.