In Print and Kindle Creating the Declaration Of Independence

The 225th Anniversary of the Bill of Rights, Part II

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When reflecting on the first ten amendments to the American Constitution, or the Bill of Rights, focus is often on the great freedoms of religion, speech, press and the right to bear arms.  The Bill of Rights became 225 years old on December 15, 2016. With that in mind, it is worth a moment to […]

The Sixth Amendment’s Right to the Assistance of Counsel

Henry Fonda in Gideon's Trumpet

Thanks to television police reading the Miranda Warnings people are familiar with a criminal defendant’s right to an attorney and that an indigent defendant may have appointed counsel. Such protections have not always been part of United States law. The right to an attorney is found in the Constitution’s Sixth Amendment.  The Sixth Amendment was ratified as part of the Bill […]

The Exclusionary Rule in US Criminal Trials

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Part of the Bill of Rights, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits government searches or seizures without a warrant issued by a disinterested magistrate. The Fourth Amendment protects the right to have government stay out of a person’s home and property without prior approval by a judge. If the judge has found […]

The Fifth Amendment: Procedural Protections for Natural Rights

The First United States Congress proposed 12 amendments to the Constitution in 1789. The states ratified ten of the proposed amendments: The Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment contains five procedural rights. If the government seeks to take someone’s life, liberty or property it must follow the Fifth Amendment’s rules. The Fifth Amendment “No person […]

Boston Marathon Bomber, Miranda Warnings and the Public Safety Exception

Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect #2:  Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Law enforcement’s goal of taking Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect #2, [1] Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, alive was commendably achieved.  A principle reason for this goal was to question Tsarnaev about further potential dangers to the public.  The FBI has announced its intent to question him “extensively” prior to reading him Miranda warnings, relying upon the “public safety” exception […]

The Origin and Meaning of the Miranda Warnings

Ernesto Miranda

The Miranda warnings are part of American criminal justice and American popular culture.  Where do they come from? What do they mean? Ernesto Miranda was the name of a 23 year old Mexican immigrant.  The United States Supreme Court in 1966 announced a constitutional rule of criminal procedure requiring that police must advise a suspect of several […]

Gideon v. Wainwright, 50 Years Later, Did Clarence Gideon Write His Appeal? Part 2

Gideon Petition to US Supreme Court

Clarence Earl Gideon had an eighth grade education and a long criminal history. He had been sentenced to prison for the fifth time. Upon his arrival he began to study law for long hours in the prison library. As the story goes, eventually, with a pencil and paper he scratched out an appeal to the […]

Gideon v. Wainwright, 50 Years Later, Did Clarence Gideon Write His Appeal? Part 1

Clarence Gideon

Thanks to television crime dramas and police shows, everyone is familiar with the following: “You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.” The story of those familiar words started with a Bay Harbor, FL poolroom break-in in 1961. The break-in resulted in the arrest, […]