Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Diluted and trivialized

As a criminal defense attorney I am always frustrated with two things (among many others): 1) misinformation/fudging of truth in police reports, 2) confessions/admissions by my clients following their arrests. The interesting thing is that many of my clients perceive police officers as their 'friends', on their side, and they decide to tell their side of the story to them more readily than sometimes to their own lawyer. What is up with that? Even in court they decide to waive their rights and speak to the judge, for example. As soon as I see my client open his/her mouth in the court, I tell them very undiplomatically 'shut your mouth, please.' I lecture them for hours and hours not to talk to anyone about their case, no matter how innocent they think they are. They say, 'if everyone knows about my story, they will see how innocent I am.' Yeah, right.

Do me a favor, please, write this short statement on a card and keep it in your car, at home and treat it as your Bible:

My lawyer has instructed me not to talk to anyone about my case or anything else, and not to answer questions or reply to accusations. On advice of counsel and on the grounds of my rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, I shall talk to no one in the absence of counsel. I shall not give any consents or make any waivers of my legal rights. Any requests for information or for consent to conduct searches or seizures or investigations affecting my person, papers, property, or effects should be addressed to my lawyer: (name of your laywer and phone number). I want all communications with the authorities henceforth to be made only through my lawyer. I request that my lawyer be notified and allowed to be present if any identification confrontations, tests, examinations, or investigations of any sort are conducted in my case, and I do not consent to any such confrontations, tests, examinations, or investigations.

Lately, Miranda rights (and a host of other rights) have been trivialized and diluted. If only Justices Warren, Marshall and Brennan could have predicted all of this... So, unless you as an individual know your rights beforehand and invoke them, nobody will do that for you and believe me, no one will 'scrupulously honor' them.

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