Michigan v. Tucker

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps

Page 52

Michigan v. Tucker, 417 U.S. 433, 94 S. Ct. 2357, 41 L. Ed. 2d 182, was a critical 1974 Supreme Court decision that limited the constitutional authority of the Miranda rights that the Court had developed in the landmark decision in MIRANDA V. ARIZONA, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1966). In Michigan v. Tucker, the Court concluded that the Miranda rights were procedural safeguards and not rights protected by the Constitution.

The FIFTH AMENDMENT to the Constitution contains the Self-Incrimination Clause, which guarantees a person the right to refuse to answer questions that might implicate the person in a crime. The Court in Miranda announced a set of warnings that law enforcement officers must give a suspect before an interrogation. These well-known warnings direct that a suspect be advised of the right to remain silent, be warned that any statement the suspect makes may be used as evidence against the person, be told of the right to have a lawyer present during interrogation, and if the suspect cannot afford an attorney, the right to have a lawyer appointed to represent the suspect. The Court believed that this set of warnings would create a uniform policy for all law enforcement officers to follow. The penalty for ignoring the Miranda warning was the exclusion at trial of any statements or confessions made by the defendant.

In Michigan v. Tucker, the Court was confronted with a suspect in a brutal rape whose interrogation had occurred prior to the Court's ruling in Miranda. Nevertheless, the police officers who interrogated Thomas W. Tucker advised him of his right to remain silent and his right to an attorney. They did not advise him, however, that he had a right to a free lawyer. Tucker waived his rights and proceeded to name a person who he claimed could provide an alibi. That person, however, provided incriminating evidence against Tucker. Tucker objected to the admission of his statements and sought the protection of the Miranda rights that the Court had announced after his arrest but prior to his trial. Tucker also asked that the alibi witness not be allowed to testify because Tucker had provided that information during his interrogation.

The trial judge excluded all of Tucker's statements but allowed the alibi witness to testify. A jury convicted Tucker, and his appeals were denied by the Michigan courts. He then filed a HABEAS CORPUS action in federal court...

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