May 24, 2010
On February 23 and 24, 2010, the Supreme Court announced its decisions in Florida v. Powell and Maryland v. Shatzer respectively. The question in Florida v. Powell was whether the warnings the defendant received before interrogation adequately conveyed his right to the presence of an attorney during questioning, which is a right that was established in Miranda v. Arizona (1966). The question in Maryland v. Shatzer was whether Edwards v. Arizona (1981), which bars police from initiating questioning with criminal suspects who have invoked their right to counsel, applies to an interrogation that takes place three years later.
In Florida v. Powell, Justice Ginsburg delivered the opinion of the Court, which Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito, and Sotomayor joined in its entirety, and which Justice Breyer joined in part. The Court held that advising a suspect that he has the right to talk to a lawyer before answering any of the law enforcement officer's questions and that he can invoke that right at any time during the questioning satisfies Miranda. Justice Stevens filed a dissenting opinion, which Justice Breyer joined in part.
In Maryland v. Shatzer, Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court, which Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, and Sotomayor joined. The Court held that because Shatzer experienced a break in Miranda custody lasting more than two weeks between the first and second attempts at interrogation, Edwards v. Arizona does not mandate the suppression of Shatzer's later statements. Justice Thomas joined Part III of the opinion of the Court and also filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. Justice Stevens filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.
To discuss these cases, we have Indiana University Maurer School of Law Professor Craig M. Bradley.