Duckworth v. Eagan/Opinion of the Court

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Respondent confessed to stabbing a woman nine times after she refused to have sexual relations with him, and he was convicted of attempted murder. Before confessing, respondent was given warnings by the police, which included the advice that a lawyer would be appointed "if and when you go to court." The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that such advice did not comply with the requirements of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). We disagree and reverse.

Late on May 16, 1982, respondent contacted a Chicago police officer he knew to report that he had seen the naked body of a dead woman lying o a Lake Michigan beach. Respondent denied any involvement in criminal activity. He then took several Chicago police officers to the beach, where the woman was crying for help. When she saw respondent, the woman exclaimed: "Why did you stab me? Why did you stab me?" Respondent told the officers that he had been with the woman earlier that night, but that they had been attacked by several men who abducted the woman in a van.

The next morning, after realizing that the crime had been committed in Indiana, the Chicago police turned the investigation over to the Hammond, Indiana, Police Department. Respondent repeated to the Hammond police officers his story that he had been attacked on the lakefront, and that the woman had been abducted by several men. After he filled out a battery complaint at a local police station, respondent agreed to go to the Hammond police headquarters for further questioning.

At about 11 a.m., the Hammond police questioned respondent. Before doing so, the police read to respondent a waiver form, entitled "Voluntary Appearance; Advice of Rights," and they asked him to sign it. The form provided: "Before we ask you any questions, you must understand your rights. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court. You have a right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions, and to have him with you during questioning. You have this right to the advice and presence of a lawyer even if you cannot afford to hire one. We have no way of giving you a lawyer, but one will be appointed for you, if you wish, if and when you go to court. If you wish to answer questions now without a lawyer present, you have the right to stop answering questions at any time. You also have the right to stop answering at any time until you've talked to a lawyer." 843 F.2d 1554, 1555-1556 (CA7 1988) (emphasis added). [1]

Respondent signed the form and repeated his exculpatory explanation for his activities of the previous evening.

Respondent was then placed in the "lock up" at the Hammond police headquarters. Some 29 hours later, at about 4 p.m. on May 18, the police again interviewed respondent. Before this questioning, one of the officers read the following waiver form to respondent:

"1. Before making this statement, I was advised that I have the right to remain silent and that anything I might say may or will be used against me in a court of law.

"2. That I have the right to consult with an attorney of my own choice before saying anything, and that an attorney may be present while I am making any statement or throughout the course of any conversation with any police officer if I so choose.

"3. That I can stop and request an attorney at any time during the course of the taking of any statement or during the course of any such conversation.

"4. That in the course of any conversation I can refuse to answer any further questions and remain silent, thereby terminating the conversation.

"5. That if I do not hire an attorney, one will be provided for me." Id., at 1556.

Respondent read the form back to the officers and signed it. He proceeded to confess to st bbing the woman. The next morning, respondent led the officers to the Lake Michigan beach where they recovered the knife he had used in the stabbing and several items of clothing.

At trial, over respondent's objection, the state court admitted his confession, his first statement denying any involvement in the crime, the knife, and the clothing. The jury found respondent guilty of attempted murder, but acquitted him of rape. He was sentenced to 35 years' imprisonment. The conviction was upheld on appeal. Eagan v. State, 480 N.E.2d 946 (Ind.1985).

Respondent sought a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, claiming, inter alia, that his confession was inadmissible because the first waiver form did not comply with Miranda. The District Court denied the petition, holding that the record "clearly manifests adherence to Miranda . . . especially as to the so-called second statement." App. to Pet. for Cert. A52.

A divided United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed. 843 F.2d 1554 (1988). The majority held that the advice that counsel would be appointed "if and when you go to court," which was included in the first warnings given to respondent, was "constitutionally defective because it denies an accused indigent a clear and unequivocal warning of the right to appointed counsel before any interrogation," and "link[s] an indigent's right to counsel before interrogation with a future event." Id., at 1557. The majority relied on the Seventh Circuit's decision in United States ex rel. Williams v. Twomey, 467 F.2d 1248, 1250 (1972), which had condemned, as "misleading and confusing," the inclusion of "if and when you go to court" language in Miranda warnings. Turning to the admissibility of respondent's confession, the majority thought that "as a result of the first warning, [respondent] arguably believed that he could not secure a lawyer during interrogation" and that the second warning "did not explicitly correct this misinformation." 843 F.2d, at 1558. It therefore remanded the case for a determination whether respondent had knowingly and intelligently waived his right to an attorney during the second interview. The dissenting judge rejected the majority's "formalistic, technical and unrealistic application of Miranda" and argued that the first warnings passed constitutional muster. Id., at 1562. In any case, he thought that remand was not necessary because the record indicated that this case was covered by Oregon v. Elstad, 470 U.S. 298, 105 S.Ct. 1285, 84 L.Ed.2d 222 (1985). 843 F.2d, at 1570-1571.

The Court of Appeals denied rehearing en banc, with four judges dissenting from that order. App. to Pet. for Cert. A1-A2. We then granted certiorari, 488 U.S. 888, 109 S.Ct. 218, 102 L.Ed.2d 209 (1988), to resolve a conflict among the lower courts as to whether informing a suspect that an attorney would be appointed for him "if and when you go to court" renders Miranda warnings inadequate. [2] We agree with the majority of the lower courts that it does not. [3]

In Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), the Court established certain procedural safeguards that require police to advise criminal suspects of their rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments before commencing custodial interrogation. In now-familiar words, the Court said that the suspect must be told that "he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so desires." Id., at 479, 86 S.Ct., at 1630. The Court in Miranda "presumed that interrogation in certain custodial circumstances is inherently coercive and . . . that statements made under those circumstances are inadmissible unless the suspect is specifically warned of his Miranda rights and freely decides to forgo those rights." New York v. Quarles, 467 U.S. 649, 654, 104 S.Ct. 2626, 2630, 81 L.Ed.2d 550 (1984) (footnote omitted).

We have never insisted that Miranda warnings be given in the exact form described in that decision. [4] In Miranda itself, the Court said that "[t]he warnings required and the waiver necessary in accordance with our opinion today are, in the absence of a fully effective equivalent, prerequisites to the admissibility of any statement made by a defendant." 384 U.S., at 476 (emphasis added). See also Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291, 297, 100 S.Ct. 1682, 1687, 64 L.Ed.2d 297 (1980) (referring to "the now familiar Miranda warnings . . . or their equivalent"). In California v. Prysock, 453 U.S. 355, 101 S.Ct. 2806, 69 L.Ed.2d 696 (1981) (per curiam), we stated that "the 'rigidity' of Miranda [does not] exten[d] to the precise formulation of the warnings given a criminal defendant," and that "no talismanic incantation [is] required to satisfy its strictures." Id., at 359, 101 S.Ct., at 2809.

Miranda has not been limited to station house questioning, see Rhode Island v. Innis, supra (police car), and the officer in the field may not always have access to printed Miranda warnings, or he may inadvertently depart from routine practice, particularly if a suspect requests an elaboration of the warnings. The prophylactic Miranda warnings are "not themselves rights protected by the Constitution but [are] instead measures to insure that the right against compulsory self-incrimination [is] protected." Michigan v. Tucker, 417 U.S. 433, 444, 94 S.Ct. 2357, 2364, 41 L.Ed.2d 182 (1974). Reviewing courts therefore need not examine Miranda warnings as if construing a will or defining the terms of an easement. The inquiry is simply whether the warnings reasonably "conve[y] to [a suspect] his rights as required by Miranda." Prysock, supra, 453 U.S., at 361, 101 S.Ct., at 2810.

We think the initial warnings given to respondent touched all of the bases required by Miranda. The police told respondent that he had the right to remain silent, that anything he said could be used against him in court, that he had the right to speak to an attorney before and during questioning, that he had "this right to the advice and presence of a lawyer even if [he could] not afford to hire one," and that he had the "right to stop answering at any time until [he] talked to a lawyer." 843 F.2d, at 1555-1556. As noted, the police also added that they could not provide respondent with a lawyer, but that one would be appointed "if and when you go to court." The Court of Appeals thought this "if and when you go to court" language suggested that "only those accused who can afford an attorney have the right to have one present before answering any questions," and "implie[d] that if the accused does not 'go to court,' i.e.[,] the government does not file charges, the accused is not entitled to [counsel] at all." Id., at 1557.

In our view, the Court of Appeals misapprehended the effect of the inclusion of "if and when you go to court" language in Miranda warnings. First, this instruction accurately described the procedure for the appointment of counsel in Indiana. Under Indiana law, counsel is appointed at the defendant's initial appearance in court, Ind.Code § 35-33-7-6 (1988), and formal charges must be filed at or before that hearing, § 35-33-7-3(a). [5] We think it must be relatively commonplace for a suspect, after receiving Miranda warnings, to ask when he will obtain counsel. The "if and when you go to court" advice simply anticipates that question. [6] Second, Miranda does not require that attorneys be producible on call, but only that the suspect be informed, as here, that he has the right to an attorney before and during questioning, and that an attorney would be appointed for him if he could not afford one. [7] The Court in Miranda emphasized that it was not suggesting that "each police station must have a 'station house lawyer' present at all times to advise prisoners." 384 U.S., at 474, 86 S.Ct., at 1628. If the police cannot provide appointed counsel, Miranda requires only that the police not question a suspect unless he waives his right to counsel. Ibid. Here, respondent did just that.

Respondent relies, Brief for Respondent 24-29, on language in California v. Prysock, where we suggested that Miranda warnings would not be sufficient "if the reference to the right to appointed counsel was linked [to a] future point in time after the police interrogation." 453 U.S., at 360, 101 S.Ct., at 2810 (emphasis added). The Court of Appeals also referred to Prysock in finding deficient the initial warnings given to respondent. 843 F.2d, at 1557. But the vice referred to in Prysock was that such warnings would not apprise the accused of his right to have an attorney present if he chose to answer questions. The warnings in this case did not suffer from that defect. Of the eight sentences in the initial warnings, one described respondent's right to counsel "before [the police] ask[ed] [him] questions," while another stated his right to "stop answering at any time until [he] talk[ed] to a lawyer." Id., at 1555-1556. We hold that the initial warnings given to respondent, in their totality, satisfied Miranda, and therefore that his first statement denying his involvement in the crime, as well as the knife and the clothing, was properly admitted into evidence.

The Court of Appeals thought it necessary to remand this case for consideration of whether respondent's second statement was tainted by the first warnings. Id., at 1557-1558. In view of our disposition of this case, we need not reach that question. [8] The judgment of the Court of Appeals is accordingly reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with our decision.

It is so ordered.


  1. The remainder of the form signed by respondent provided:
  2. The majority of federal and state courts to consider the issue have held that warnings that contained "if and when you go to court" language satisfied Miranda. See Wright v. North Carolina, 483 F.2d 405, 406-407 (CA4 1973), cert. denied, 415 U.S. 936, 94 S.Ct. 1452, 39 L.Ed.2d 494 (1974); Massimo v. United States, 463 F.2d 1171, 1174 (CA2 1972), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 1117, 93 S.Ct. 920, 34 L.Ed.2d 700 (1973); United States v. Lacy, 446 F.2d 511, 513 (CA5 1971); State v. Sterling, 377 So.2d 58, 62-63 (La.1979); Harrell v. State, 357 So.2d 643, 645-646 (Miss.1978); Rowbotham v. State, 542 P.2d 610, 618-619 (Okla.Crim.App.1975); Grennier v. State, 70 Wis.2d 204, 213-215, 234 N.W.2d 316, 321-322 (1975); Schade v. State, 512 P.2d 907, 915-916 (Alaska 1973); State v. Mumbaugh, 107 Ariz. 589, 596-597, 491 P.2d 443, 450-451 (1971); People v. Campbell, 26 Mich.App. 196, 201-202, 182 N.W.2d 4, 6-7 (1970), cert. denied, 401 U.S. 945, 91 S.Ct. 960, 28 L.Ed.2d 228 (1971); People v. Swift, 32 App.Div.2d 183, 186-187, 300 N.Y.S.2d 639, 643-644 (1969), cert. denied, 396 U.S. 1018, 90 S.Ct. 584, 24 L.Ed.2d 510 (1970). Other courts, although not using the precise "if and when you go to court" language, have held Miranda was satisfied by a warning that an attorney could not be appointed for a suspect until he appeared in court. See United States v. Contreras, 667 F.2d 976, 979 (CA11), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 849, 103 S.Ct. 109, 74 L.Ed.2d 97 (1982); Coyote v. United States, 380 F.2d 305, 308 (CA10), cert. denied, 389 U.S. 992, 88 S.Ct. 489, 19 L.Ed.2d 484 (1967); State v. Maluia, 56 Haw. 428, 431-435, 539 P.2d 1200, 1205-1207 (1975); Emler v. State, 259 Ind. 241, 243-244, 286 N.E.2d 408, 410-411 (1972); Jones v. State, 69 Wis.2d 337, 343-345, 230 N.W.2d 677, 682-683 (1975).
  3. Petitioner does not argue, and we therefore need not decide, whether Stone v. Powell, 428 U.S. 465, 96 S.Ct. 3037, 49 L.Ed.2d 1067 (1976), should be extended to bar relitigation on federal habeas of nonconstitutional claims under Miranda.
  4. For example, the standard Miranda warnings used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation provide as follows:
  5. In federal court, the defendant's initial hearing, at which counse is appointed, may occur before the filing of the indictment or information. Fed.Rules Crim.Proc. 5(a), (c).
  6. At oral argument, the United States said that the federal law enforcement officials do not use this language in order to avoid "unnecessary litigation." Tr. of Oral Arg. 16.
  7. In Miranda, the Court stated that the FBI's then-current practice of informing suspects "of a right to free counsel if they are unable to pay, and the availability of such counsel from the Judge," 384 U.S., at 486, 86 S.Ct., at 1633, was "consistent with the procedure which we delineate today," id., at 484, 86 S.Ct., at 1634.
  8. Respondent argues that the second set of Miranda warnings he received were deficient. Brief for Respondent 38-40. These specific warnings have been upheld by the Seventh Circuit, Richardson v. Duckworth, 834 F.2d 1366 (CA7 1987), and the Indiana Supreme Court, Robinson v. State, 272 Ind. 312, 397 N.E.2d 956 (1979), and we think they plainly comply with Miranda.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).