Tag Archives: Maranda

The Peril’s Of Justice

We as African Americans understand, as Richard Pryor famously said, when it comes to justice what we find is JUST-US! This statement could not be more profound today as it relates to some of the news stories that involve African Americans, namely the recent murder of the young child Trayvon Martin.

Frankly, this case takes me back nearly sixty-years when another young black child was murdered where the culprits did not receive due justice. I wonder if the story would be different if the victim was white and the shooter was black. I think we know the answer to that!!!

But I read a piece today written by Mr. Jonathan Capehart and like him I had the same questions that he asked in this article. First, he asked, what was Zimmerman’s relationship with the Sanford, Fla., police department? Then he asked why was Zimmerman portrayed as a volunteer neighborhood watch captain when he was not part of a registered neighborhood watch program? Further he asked, did the Sanford Police Department ever warn him about his activities in this unofficial capacity?

When you consider that Zimmerman was known to have placed, as it was reported, 46 calls to that department between Jan. 1, 2011, and the Feb. 26 shooting; did the Sanford police have specific orders on how to deal with him? Did they have a file on him? Did they have him on any kind of special watch list?

To these questions, the Police Chief said, “we don’t have the grounds to arrest him.” Yet, Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense was sufficient justification to not arrest him. My next question was why did Chief Lee accept Zimmerman’s self-defense plea on its face? Did the police run a background check on Zimmerman? Did his previous arrest, for resisting arrest without violence, raise any red flags with police? Did Lee attempt to establish probable cause? How did he go about it? Was Zimmerman tested for drugs or alcohol? If not, why not? Was Zimmerman’s gun confiscated? Was it tested? Where is that gun now?

These are all valid questions that demand answers.

Now, here are a few questions that come to mind with respect to the crime scene. What did police do with Trayvon’s body at the scene? What did police do with Trayvon’s body once taken from the scene? Why was it tested for drugs and alcohol? What did police do with Trayvon’s personal effects? Where is his cell phone? Did police try to contact Trayvon’s 16-year-old girlfriend, who was talking to him during the initial moments of the confrontation with Zimmerman and who tried several times to call him back? Hmmmm!

So as you can see there are many more questions than answers and frankly a thorough investigation would have answered these questions. Thankfully, the Department of Justice has decided to review the case to ensure that some of these questions are answered – maybe. There is such a thing as right and wrong; some things are right and some things are wrong. When you look at the aforementioned questions in this case that are unanswered – it stinks of wrong. Oh, and for sure racism!!!

There are so many more questions than answers and I pray we get them answered, and justice is served. With that said, I would suggest that you compare this to little Emmitt Till and recall the Peril’s Of Justice.

And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

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The New Miranda Rules


The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that criminal suspects should speak up if they want to preserve their right to remain silent. This is a stunning shift concerning the latest test of the court’s famous Miranda rule and shifts the burden to suspects to invoke their right to refuse questioning. If we can go back to 1966 and remember why the original decision was rendered, it is hard to understand the court’s reasoning today. When we consider law enforcement practices prior Miranda it was necessary for the court to require law enforcement to make what became known as the Miranda rights part of routine police procedures to ensure that suspects were informed of their rights. This decision is widely viewed as a huge setback to citizen’s rights.

This is a drastic shift from the spirit of the 1966 law that says; “statements made in response to interrogation by a defendant in police custody will be admissible at trial only if the prosecution can show that the defendant was informed of the right to consult with an attorney before and during questioning and of the right against self-incrimination prior to questioning by police, and that the defendant not only understood these rights, but voluntarily waived them”.

The newest member of the court, Justice Sotomayor wrote in her dissenting opinion that “Today’s decision turns Miranda upside down,” while accusing the majority of casting aside judicial restraint. “Criminal suspects must now unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent … which, counter intuitively, requires them to speak. At the same time, suspects will be legally presumed to have waived their rights even if they have given no clear expression of their intent to do so.”

Justice Sotomayor, a former prosecutor who some had speculated might be less protective of the rights of suspects than other liberals on the court, called the decision “a substantial retreat from the protection against compelled self-incrimination.” She was joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy who wrote for the majority said, “Where the prosecution shows that a Miranda warning was given and that it was understood by the accused, an accused’s uncoerced statement establishes an implied waiver of the right to remain silent.” Kennedy was joined, of course, by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.

A little history about the landmark Miranda v. Arizona 384 U.S. 436 (1966) case with its 5–4 decision of the 1966 Court, which revolutionized the way the nation’s police departments were required to interrogate arrested persons by informing a suspect of their rights under the ruling, termed a Miranda warning. The Miranda decision was widely criticized when it came down, as many felt it was unfair to inform suspected criminals of their rights, as outlined in the decision.

President Nixon and many conservatives denounced Miranda for undermining the efficiency of the police arguing that the ruling would contribute to an increase in crime. Nixon, upon becoming President, promised to appoint judges who would be “strict constructionists” and who would exercise judicial restraint. Many supporters of law enforcement were angered by the decision’s negative view of police officers. The federal Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 purported to overrule Miranda for federal criminal cases and restore the “totality of the circumstances” test that had prevailed prior to Miranda.

The validity of this provision of the law, which is still codified at 18 U.S. Code 3501, was not ruled on for another 30 years because the Justice Department never attempted to rely on it to support the introduction of a confession into evidence at any criminal trial. Miranda was undermined by several subsequent decisions which seemed to grant several exceptions to the “Miranda warnings,” undermining its claim to be a necessary corollary of the Fifth Amendment.

In this case the court ruled 5 to 4 that a Michigan defendant who incriminated himself in a fatal shooting by saying one word after nearly three hours of questioning had given up his right to silence, and that the statement could be used against him at trial. In the case before the court, suspect Van Chester Thompkins was read his rights and, at police request, repeated some of them out loud. But he did not sign an offered waiver of the right, and he did not acknowledge that he was willing to talk. Nor did he say that he wanted the questioning to stop.

Detectives persisted in what one called mostly a “monologue” for about two hours and 45 minutes, until one asked Thompkins whether he believed in God. Then a follow up question – “Do you pray to God to forgive you for shooting that boy down?” Thompkins answered “Yes” and looked away. The statement was used against him, along with other testimony, and Thompkins was convicted of killing Samuel Morris outside a strip mall in Southfield, Mich.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit said that Thompkins’s prolonged silence “offered a clear and unequivocal message to the officers that Thompkins did not wish to waive his rights.” “The fact that Thompkins made a statement about three hours after receiving a Miranda warning does not overcome the fact that he engaged in a course of conduct indicating waiver.” Today the conservative arm of the Supreme Court disagreed making the case a president and now law. This decision, I believe will have a far reaching dangerous impact on a society that is becoming largely more diverse.

I am not a lawyer but I was around prior to the 1966 ruling and I will tell you that there was significant reason to establish that law because of what police departments were able to do to suspects in custody, and get away with it. So I would encourage you to advise you children and young people how to conduct themselves once they have been detained by police, and to be aware yourself that anything you say can and will be used against you.

The John T. Wills Chronicles


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