Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that police, under certain circumstances, can initiate an interrogation of a suspect without the defendant’s lawyer being present.
By a 5-4 vote, the conservative majority overruled a 23-year-old Supreme Court decision that barred the police from initiating questioning after a defendant asserted the right to an attorney at an arraignment or similar proceeding.
The 1986 decision held that once a defendant invoked the right to counsel, only the suspect, and not the police, can initiate the contact.
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The ruling was the latest in a recent string by conservative justices expanding the power of police to question suspects, but it does not change the landmark 1966 ruling barring the police from questioning a suspect who invoked the right to remain silent or have a lawyer present.
The decision was a defeat for Jesse Jay Montejo, a Louisiana death row inmate. He was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of a dry-cleaning operator during a robbery in 2002.