WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that law enforcement officers cannot be prosecuted when they violate the rights of suspects by failing to provide Miranda’s familiar warning before questioning them.
Judges ruled 6-3 in favor of a sheriff’s deputy who was prosecuted after failing to read a warning from Miranda – “You have the right to remain silent”, it begins – to an employee of Los Angeles hospital accused of sexually assaulting a patient.
At issue in the case was whether the warning given to suspects before they spoke to authorities, which the court recognized in its Miranda v. Arizona in 1966 and reaffirmed 34 years later, is a constitutional right or something less important and less defined.
Judge Samuel Alito wrote in his majority opinion that “a violation of Miranda is not itself a violation of the Fifth Amendment” and “we see no justification for the release of Miranda to confer a right to sue” in under federal law known as Section 1983. The Act allows people to sue police officers and other government employees for violating constitutional rights.
Disagreeing with the three liberals on the court, Judge Elena Kagan wrote that the ruling “prevents individuals from obtaining redress when police violate their rights under Miranda.”
The case began when a female stroke victim said she was assaulted at a Los Angeles hospital and identified hospital worker Terrence Tekoh as her attacker. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Vega spoke to Tekoh, who signed a statement confessing to the assault.
Both parties agree that Vega did not read Tekoh his rights before their conversation at the hospital. But they disagree on whether Tekoh was forced to confess.
Even with the statement used against him at trial, a jury acquitted Tekoh of the criminal charges. Tekoh then turned around and sued Vega, who twice prevailed in civil lawsuits over his conduct. But a federal appeals court ruled that Tekoh should be given another chance.
The MP appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case.
The Huffington Gt