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Enforcing our rights in June

When: June 13, 1966

What: Any fan of police dramas knows that the first thing a detective says when he cuffs the bad guy is: “You have the right to remain silent.” That statement is part of the Miranda rights, which were made mandatory in 1966. Today, reading suspects their Miranda rights is merely a part of the routine that helps ensure legal and police proceedings run smoothly and are aboveboard. Mark this law enforcement milestone on its 45th anniversary, June 13.

Background: In Miranda v. Arizona, convicted kidnapper and rapist Ernesto Arturo Miranda argued that he was not made fully aware of his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights when confessing to the crime. As a result, on June 13, 1966, the Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement must make suspects aware of their constitutional rights, including the right to decline self-incriminatory statements and the right to legal counsel. Although the Miranda rights were controversial when first introduced, the public now shows overwhelming support for the concept.

Story Pitch: Groups invested in civil rights and law enforcement will want to mark this day with discussion of Miranda rights, as well as all civil rights. Those who seek to educate the public on their rights should touch upon the importance of Miranda rights as well as other issues such as search and seizure of property, how to obtain legal representation, and the use of force. Law enforcement can use this anniversary to reach out to communities and share the training and methods employed in their commitment to protecting the public’s rights and safety. Recent debate about filming on duty officers, and the public’s right to do so, coincides with this anniversary in a way that offers law firms and publications a chance to discuss Miranda rights in-depth and to touch upon their own work in the area of civil rights.

Story Hook: At the time of the Supreme Court ruling, President Richard Nixon said that it would be “seriously hamstringing” to law enforcement. Have Miranda rights affected law enforcement’s ability to perform its duties? Keep the following in mind while making your pitch:

  • How do defendants acquire a defense attorney if they can’t afford one?
  • What are instances in which law enforcement doesn’t have to read Miranda rights?
  • How has the establishment of Miranda rights affected court room proceedings?
  • What other civil rights often come into play when the public and law enforcement are interacting?

Tips: Provide contact information for a public defense attorney or police department contact who can comment on the use of Miranda rights and the effects it has had on the law, as well as police procedure.

Resources:

American Bar Association
(312) 988-5522
service(at)americanbar.org
www.americanbar.org

American Civil Liberties Union
(212) 549-2500
www.aclu.org

Fraternal Order of Police
(615)399-0900
www.fop.net

Supreme Court of the United States
(202) 479-3000
www.supremecourt.gov

–Researched, compiled & written by Nicholas Testa
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