Cressey: Bombing Suspect Not Mirandized Yet, But Will Be


Despite some blogs attempting to conflate Sen. Lindsey Graham's remarks that Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzokhar Tsarnaev should be held as an enemy combatant with the Obama administration's decision not to read him his Miranda rights due to the public safety exemption, as Roger Cressey explained to Chris Hayes this Friday evening, Tsarnaev still going to be tried in civilian court and eventually read those rights.

Think Progress has more on that here: What You Need To Know About Why The Boston Bombing Suspect Hasn’t Been Read His Miranda Rights:

Despite initial reports to the contrary, FBI agents did not read Boston Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his Miranda rights immediately after he was taken into custody. Instead, they invoked what is known as the “public safety exception” to delay reading those rights to the alleged bomber. Here’s what you need to know about this narrow exception to the Miranda rule: The Public Safety Exemption Is Real

The Supreme Court first held that there is a public safety exemption to Miranda in a 1984 case known as New York v. Quarles. In Quarles a woman told police that a man with a gun raped her, and that he’d run into a nearby grocery store. Police quickly found the suspect within the store, arrested him after a brief chase, handcuffed him, and discovered that he was wearing an empty shoulder holster. Before reading him his rights, an officer asked him where the gun was, and the suspect told the cop where to find it. After retrieving the gun, police then read the suspect his Miranda rights.

Although the Constitution generally forbids law enforcement from interrogating suspects in custody without first reading them their rights, the Court held that a narrow “public safety exemption” permitted the limited questioning that occurred in Quarles. As the Court explained, “procedural safeguards which deter a suspect from responding were deemed acceptable in Miranda in order to protect the Fifth Amendment privilege; when the primary social cost of those added protections is the possibility of fewer convictions, the Miranda majority was willing to bear that cost. Here, had Miranda warnings deterred Quarles from responding to Officer Kraft’s question about the whereabouts of the gun, the cost would have been something more than merely the failure to obtain evidence useful in convicting Quarles. Officer Kraft needed an answer to his question not simply to make his case against Quarles but to insure that further danger to the public did not result from the concealment of the gun in a public area.”

As the Court emphasized, this exemption is “narrow.” It permits police to ask a limited range of questions for the purpose of removing any imminent threats. It does not permit wide-ranging questions intended to build a case against the suspect.

Go read the rest, and as they made clear, the FBI is not allowed to ask broad ranging questions for the purpose of building a criminal case and the suspect will eventually have his rights read to them, and they cannot be indefinitely delayed. And as Cressey explained in the segment above, they're going to have solid case against him due to all of the evidence they've collected already before he was taken into custody.

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