The Paly Voice

Police Chief hesitant on ending Miranda rights


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Palo Alto Police Chief Pat Dwyer says that if the Supreme Court rules to remove the dictation of Miranda rights to suspects during arrest his department may not follow with the precedent. The comments were at a press conference held at Palo Alto High School on the 5th.

"What’s right is sometimes harder than what’s legal," said Dwyer in response to a question on whether or not his department would carry out the Supreme Court ruling. Further, he said he would have to consult with the community before he makes his final decision.

The case of the Miranda rights has been reopened in light of an incident that occurred several years ago. According to an article from CNN, a farmer named Oliverio Martinez was riding his bike through a park in Oxnard where some officers were questioning a drug suspect. One officer asked Martinez to stop, and the other noticed a sheathed knife on Martinez. Suspecting danger, the officer scuffled with Martinez to apprehend him. During the scuffle, Martinez was seen reaching for one officer’s gun, which caused the other officer to shoot him–5 times, which ultimately paralyzed Martinez.

Furthermore, while Martinez was wounded, the officers continually questioned him, without reading him his Miranda Rights, namely the right to remain silent. The conundrum now arises, are the answers Martinez gave to the officer’s questions legitimate, or does that fact that he was never read his rights discredit his responses?

In the aftermath of the trial, federal judges ruled in favor of Martinez (who is represented by Samuel Paz). They said the confessions of Martinez are to be discarded because the police officers never read him his Miranda Rights. The lack of, is a clear violation of his Constitutional rights. The city of Oxnard has appealed to the Supreme Court, which will begin hearing arguments this month.

Some argue that the Miranda Rights are not inherent rights of humans, such as the right to life as stipulated in the Declaration of Independence. Rather, Miranda Rights are rights granted to the people by government, thus government has the authority to restrict these rights.

According to another article from CCN in June of 2000, a similar case was struck down by the Supreme Court regarding the testimony of a bank robber who confessed without the dictation of his rights. Chief Justice William Rehnquist said, "We hold that Miranda, being a constitutional decision of this Court, may not be … overruled by an Act of Congress, and we decline to overrule Miranda ourselves."

The Supreme Court first introduced the reading of Miranda Rights, such as "the right to remain silent," in 1966 in a case involving the testimony of Ernesto Miranda. Since then, this ruling has remained upheld, despite multiple challenges.

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