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Maryland v. Shatzer - 08-680 (2010)

Syllabus (pdf)
Opinion [ Justice Scalia ] (pdf)
Concurrence [ Justice Thomas ] (pdf)
Concurrence [ Justice Stevens ] (pdf)




certiorari to the court of appeals of maryland

No. 08–680. Argued October 5, 2009—Decided February 24, 2010

In 2003, a police detective tried to question respondent Shatzer, who was incarcerated at a Maryland prison pursuant to a prior conviction, about allegations that he had sexually abused his son. Shatzer invoked his Miranda right to have counsel present during interrogation, so the detective terminated the interview. Shatzer was released back into the general prison population, and the investigation was closed. Another detective reopened the investigation in 2006 and attempted to interrogate Shatzer, who was still incarcerated. Shatzer waived his Miranda rights and made inculpatory statements. The trial court refused to suppress those statements, reasoning that Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U. S. 477, did not apply because Shatzer had experienced a break in Miranda custody prior to the 2006 interrogation. Shatzer was convicted of sexual child abuse. The Court of Appeals of Maryland reversed, holding that the mere passage of time does not end the Edwards protections, and that, assuming, arguendo, a break-in-custody exception to Edwards existed, Shatzer’s release back into the general prison population did not constitute such a break.

Held: Because Shatzer experienced a break in Miranda custody lasting more than two weeks between the first and second attempts at interrogation, Edwards does not mandate suppression of his 2006 statements. Pp. 4–18.

   (a) Edwards created a presumption that once a suspect invokes the Miranda right to the presence of counsel, any waiver of that right in response to a subsequent police attempt at custodial interrogation is involuntary. Edwards’ fundamental purpose is to “[p]reserv[e] the integrity of an accused’s choice to communicate with police only through counsel,” Patterson v. Illinois, 487 U. S. 285, 291, by “prevent[ing] police from badgering [him] into waiving his previously asserted Miranda rights,” Michigan v. Harvey, 494 U. S. 344, 350. It is easy to believe that a suspect’s later waiver was coerced or badgered when he has been held in uninterrupted Miranda custody since his first refusal to waive. He remains cut off from his normal life and isolated in a “police-dominated atmosphere,” Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S. 436, 456, where his captors “appear to control [his] fate,” Illinois v. Perkins, 496 U. S. 292, 297. But where a suspect has been released from custody and returned to his normal life for some time before the later attempted interrogation, there is little reason to think that his change of heart has been coerced. Because the Edwards presumption has been established by opinion of this Court, it is appropriate for this Court to specify the period of release from custody that will terminate its application. See County of Riverside v. McLaughlin, 500 U. S. 44. The Court concludes that the appropriate period is 14 days, which provides ample time for the suspect to get reacclimated to his normal life, consult with friends and counsel, and shake off any residual coercive effects of prior custody. Pp. 4–13.

   (b) Shatzer’s release back into the general prison population constitutes a break in Miranda custody. Lawful imprisonment imposed upon conviction does not create the coercive pressures produced by investigative custody that justify Edwards. When previously incarcerated suspects are released back into the general prison population, they return to their accustomed surroundings and daily routine—they regain the degree of control they had over their lives before the attempted interrogation. Their continued detention is relatively disconnected from their prior unwillingness to cooperate in an investigation. The “inherently compelling pressures” of custodial interrogation ended when Shatzer returned to his normal life. Pp. 13–16.

405 Md. 585, 954 A. 2d 1118, reversed and remanded.

   Scalia, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, and Sotomayor, JJ., joined, and in which Thomas, J., joined as to Part III. Thomas, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. Stevens, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment.

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