Law/Justice

U.S. Supreme Court protects police from ‘Miranda’ lawsuits

By Reuters

WASHINGTON, June 23 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday shielded police from the risk of paying money damages for failing to advise criminal suspects of their rights before obtaining statements later used against them in court, siding with a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff.

The justices ruled 6-3 in favor of deputy sheriff Carlos Vega, who had appealed a lower court decision reviving a lawsuit by a hospital employee named Terence Tekoh who accused the officer of violating his rights under the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer stands outside the precinct where the suspect in the Brooklyn subway shooting is being held in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., April 13, 2022. REUTERS/Stephen Yang

New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer stands outside the precinct where the suspect in the Brooklyn subway shooting is being held in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., April 13, 2022. REUTERS/Stephen Yang

WASHINGTON, June 23 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday shielded police from the risk of paying money damages for failing to advise criminal suspects of their rights before obtaining statements later used against them in court, siding with a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff.

The justices ruled 6-3 in favor of deputy sheriff Carlos Vega, who had appealed a lower court decision reviving a lawsuit by a hospital employee named Terence Tekoh who accused the officer of violating his rights under the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

Tekoh was charged with sexually assaulting a hospital patient after Vega obtained a written confession from him without first informing the suspect of his rights through so-called Miranda warnings. Tekoh was acquitted at trial.

The court’s six conservatives were in the majority in the ruling written by Justice Samuel Alito, with its three liberal members dissenting.

The rights at issue were delineated in the Supreme Court’s a landmark 1966 Miranda v. Arizona ruling that, under the Fifth Amendment, police among other things must tell criminal suspects of their right to remain silent and have a lawyer present during interrogations before any statements they make may be used in a criminal trial.

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