• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court overturned a murder conviction because the accused was never warned of his right to remain silent. This decision helped transform police behavior toward those accused of committing crimes.

In this early defendants’ rights case, Danny Escobedo was taken to the police station as a murder suspect but was denied repeated requests to speak to his lawyer. His lawyer was, in turn, denied repeated requests to speak to his client. Never warned of his right to remain silent, Escobedo made some incriminating statements and ultimately confessed. His confession was key evidence at the trial, which resulted in his conviction. On reaching the Supreme Court, his confession was thrown out as improperly taken and his conviction overturned.Defendants’ rights;Escobedo v. Illinois[Escobedo v. Illinois]

Justice Arthur J. GoldbergGoldberg, Arthur J.;Escobedo v. Illinois[Escobedo v. Illinois] wrote the decision for the Court, which ruled five to four that neither federal nor state courts could admit into evidence statements taken by police from a defendant who was not allowed to talk to a lawyer or warned to remain silent. Goldberg’s decision was not clearly written, apparently reflecting divisions among the justices as to the proper rule to adopt. The confusion among police, lawyers, and judges led the Court to take up the issue again in Miranda v. Arizona[case]Miranda v. Arizona[Miranda v. Arizona] (1966) when a clearer, broader ruling was provided. Both decisions were controversial; critics charged that the Court was turning criminals loose on technicalities. In both cases, Justices Tom C. Clark, Potter Stewart, Byron R. White, and John M. Harlan II dissented.

Fourteenth Amendment

Gideon v. Wainwright

Incorporation doctrine

Miranda v. Arizona

Categories: History