Berghuis V. Thompkins

1 January 2017

Thompkins was charged with multiple charges. He moved to suppress his statements made during the interrogation. He was found guilty on all charges by a jury of his peers and sentenced to life in prison without parole. His appellate counsel filed a motion for a new trial which was rejected by the trial court. He appealed the ruling to the Michigan Court of Appeals and the trial courts original refusal to suppress his pre-trial statements made during interrogation claiming his Miranda rights were violated.

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His claims were rejected ruling that he failed to invoke his right to remain silent therefore he waived it. He then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan; they also rejected his claim and upheld the previous court rulings. However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the previous rulings for Thompkins regarding the Miranda claim.

The court believed that the state court did not reasonably apply clearly established federal laws, basing its decision on an unreasonable determination of the facts. Legal Issue Are officers required to obtain an express Miranda waiver before questioning suspects? Or are implied waivers sufficient? Facts of Case Thompkins was arrested for murder after he shot a man outside a mall in Michigan. Before being questioned in a police interview room, he was given a written copy of the Miranda warnings and an officer who determined that he could read English, gave him time to read them.

Thompkins was also provided with a supplemental warning that stated he had the right to decide at any time before or during questioning to use his right to remain silent or his right to speak with an attorney during questioning. That being said, the officer did not ask him if he wanted to waive those rights. During the interview, Thompkins did not admit anything and gave limited verbal and non verbal responses.

About three hours in, he was asked, “Do you pray to God to forgive you for shooting that boy down? He answered, “yes”. This admission was used against him at trial where he was convicted and sentenced. Statement of Rule There are two types of waivers: express and implied. An express waiver occurs when the suspect is advised of his or her Miranda rights and thereafter responds affirmatively. An implied waiver occurs when the suspect responds to questioning after having been advised of his or her rights and by word or conduct, indicated that he or she understood his rights. Policy

The circumstances under which a waiver will be implied are as follows: * Mirandized: The suspect must be correctly informed of their Miranda rights. * Rights understood: There must be reason to believe the suspect understands their rights. * No invocation: The suspect does not thereafter invoke their rights. * No coercion: The suspect’s subsequent statement was not coerced. Reasoning There was no invocation of silence as Thompkins did not invoke his right to remain silent by not saying anything for nearly three hours.

There was no waiver of right to silence as the prosecution showed that Miranda warnings were given and understood and the suspect’s uncoerced statement established an implied waiver of the right to remain silent. There was no express waiver needed as the Miranda only requires that a suspect be given his warnings, understand them, and then have an opportunity to invoke them. Holding A suspect who receives and understands his or her Miranda warnings, and fails to invoke his or her Miranda rights, waives the right to remain silent when offering an uncocerced statement to the police. Therefore, an implied Miranda will suffice.

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