The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) published its opinion in Berghuis v. Thompkins on Tuesday, stating that invoking the right to remain silent requires the suspect to make an actual announcement that he does not want to speak to the police.
The right to remain silent is a major portion of the Miranda decision, as is the right to counsel. The court, clarifying the silence aspect of Miranda, followed their previous thinking which holds that the suspect must make a request for counsel before he is considered to have ‘invoked.’
Curiously, the decision was a narrow 5-4, even though the case seemed fairly straightforward. The latest SCOTUS appointee, Justice Sotomayor, wrote the opinion for the minority.
The Supreme Court has handed down a long list of decisions that impact police procedure and criminal investigations in recent years. For example, the Court limited the use of K-9 detection on traffic stops in the Rodriguez v. United States case. Aaron does a good job of talking about the historical precedent of K-9 use and what was decided in Rodriguez.
Another one to take a look at – especially for patrol officers – is the Kentucky v. King case that dealt with exigent circumstances. In this case, the Court considered if exigent circumstances apply in a case where the police threaten to engage in a violation of the Fourth Amendment. This one is well worth reading.
Another good one for the patrol officers relates to probable cause on a traffic stop: US v. Daniel. This case is not a Supreme Court case – rather it was decided at in the US 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. However, it provides further clarity to the Arizona v. Gant case that stated a vehicle search incident to driver arrest is not permissible as a matter of routine. If this one is heard by the Supreme Court, it will help clarify things for all officers.