Congress, Miranda, and the Supreme Court
In the famous (or notorious) 1966 decision of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, the Supreme Court laid down a set of rules for the admissibility of confessions by suspects in custody.  Chief Justice Warren frankly acknowledged that these were not the only constitutionally acceptable procedures and invited Congress to legislate on the matter.  See id., at 490.  Congress responded two years later by legislatively abrogating Miranda, declaring that voluntariness of confessions shall be determined by all the circumstances.  See 18 U.S.C. § 3501 (reprinted below).

  In the years since, the Supreme Court has repeatedly indicated that Miranda is something less than a constitutional right.  See, e.g., Michigan v. Tucker, 417 U.S. 433, 444 (1974).  If so, is it subject to Congressional modification or even abrogation?  Section 3501 has not come to the Supreme Court in this time.

  In the Dickerson case, the government invoked the statute in the District Court but then repudiated that position when the case reached the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal.  That court invoked the statute anyway.  Professor Paul Cassell of the University of Utah, a subcommittee chairman of the Federalist Society's Criminal Law and Procedure Practice Group, filed an amicus curiae brief urging the court to do so.

  The Supreme Court has accepted review.  Since the defendant and the government agree on this point, the Court appointed Professor Cassell to argue for affirmance as amicus.  The case is set for argument April 19, 2000, and will probably be decided in June.

The Fourth Circuit's opinion (Emory)
The Solicitor General's brief
Dickerson's brief
Paul Cassell's Web page

Amicus Briefs Supporting Affirmance:
 Paul Cassell
 Criminal Justice Legal Foundation
 Senator Hatch, et al.
 South Carolina and 16 other states
 Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, U.S. House of Representatives
 William Barr and Edwin Meese
 Maricopa County Attorney
 National District Attorneys' Association
 FBI Agents' Association
 National Association of Police Organizations
 Fraternal Order of Police
 Americans for Effective Law Enforcement
 Center for the Community Interest
 Arizona Voices for Victims
 Citizens for Law and Order
 Manning & Marder, Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez

Amicus Briefs Supporting Reversal:
 American Civil Liberties Union
 Griffin B. Bell, et al.
 Benjamin R. Civiletti
 House Democratic Leadership
 National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
 Rutherford Institute
 National Legal Aid and Defenders Association

Text of 18 U.S.C. § 3501:

    Sec. 3501. Admissibility of confessions
       (a) In any criminal prosecution brought by the United States or
    by the District of Columbia, a confession, as defined in subsection
    (e) hereof, shall be admissible in evidence if it is voluntarily
    given.  Before such confession is received in evidence, the trial
    judge shall, out of the presence of the jury, determine any issue
    as to voluntariness.  If the trial judge determines that the
    confession was voluntarily made it shall be admitted in evidence
    and the trial judge shall permit the jury to hear relevant evidence
    on the issue of voluntariness and shall instruct the jury to give
    such weight to the confession as the jury feels it deserves under
    all the circumstances.
      (b) The trial judge in determining the issue of voluntariness
    shall take into consideration all the circumstances surrounding the
    giving of the confession, including (1) the time elapsing between
    arrest and arraignment of the defendant making the confession, if
    it was made after arrest and before arraignment, (2) whether such
    defendant knew the nature of the offense with which he was charged
    or of which he was suspected at the time of making the confession,
    (3) whether or not such defendant was advised or knew that he was
    not required to make any statement and that any such statement
    could be used against him, (4) whether or not such defendant had
    been advised prior to questioning of his right to the assistance of
    counsel; and (5) whether or not such defendant was without the
    assistance of counsel when questioned and when giving such
      The presence or absence of any of the above-mentioned factors to
    be taken into consideration by the judge need not be conclusive on
    the issue of voluntariness of the confession.
      (c) In any criminal prosecution by the United States or by the
    District of Columbia, a confession made or given by a person who is
    a defendant therein, while such person was under arrest or other
    detention in the custody of any law-enforcement officer or
    law-enforcement agency, shall not be inadmissible solely because of
    delay in bringing such person before a magistrate or other officer
    empowered to commit persons charged with offenses against the laws
    of the United States or of the District of Columbia if such
    confession is found by the trial judge to have been made
    voluntarily and if the weight to be given the confession is left to
    the jury and if such confession was made or given by such person
    within six hours immediately following his arrest or other
    detention: Provided, That the time limitation contained in this
    subsection shall not apply in any case in which the delay in
    bringing such person before such magistrate or other officer beyond
    such six-hour period is found by the trial judge to be reasonable
    considering the means of transportation and the distance to be
    traveled to the nearest available such magistrate or other officer.
      (d) Nothing contained in this section shall bar the admission in
    evidence of any confession made or given voluntarily by any person
    to any other person without interrogation by anyone, or at any time
    at which the person who made or gave such confession was not under
    arrest or other detention.
      (e) As used in this section, the term ''confession'' means any
    confession of guilt of any criminal offense or any
    self-incriminating statement made or given orally or in writing.


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