Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2012


Three decades ago, the Supreme Court created a dubious distinction between the rights accorded to suspects in custody who invoke their right to silence and who invoke their right to counsel. This distinction significantly disadvantages those who do not have the good sense or good fortune to specify they want an attorney when they invoke their right to remain silent. This article argues that this distinction was flawed at its genesis and that it has led to judicial decisions that are inconsistent, make little sense, and permit police behavior that substantially diminishes the right to silence as described in Miranda v. Arizona. The article does so by demonstrating that the distinction is unsupportable either theoretically or pragmatically. It then shows that two recent holdings of the Court have paved the way for abolishing the distinction and developing an approach that both reflects the reality of custodial interrogation and is consistent with the principles behind the Fifth Amendment and the holding in Miranda.



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