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Rethinking Custodial Interrogation

NCJ Number
American Criminal Law Review Volume: 28 Issue: 1 Dated: (1990) Pages: 1-71
D Yeager
Date Published
71 pages
This legal article, concerned solely with questions surrounding the admissibility of confessions, shows that only a reconsideration of custodial interrogation can restore the "significant deprivations" language to the status granted it in Miranda v. Arizona.
Various U.S. Supreme Court decisions have initiated, advanced, or altered the sweep of significant deprivations of freedom for purposes of Miranda. An analysis of custodial interrogation indicates that much of what makes the Miranda doctrine difficult is traceable to a basic misunderstanding of the synergistic relationship of custody and interrogation. A custodial interrogation model is proposed that reads custody and interrogation together and attempts to quantify their impact on reasonable perceptions of suspects. In addition to its role in increasing the volume of suppressed confessions, the synergy theory of the model may alert judges and lawyers to the application problems endemic to "functional equivalent" tests currently plaguing judicial review of what constitutes a significant deprivation of freedom in custodial interrogation. In the case of significant deprivations of freedom, the poverty of the functional equivalent test goes beyond application difficulties; the test borders on subversive interpretation. Irrespective of viewpoints favoring individual rights over more convictions, the threshold decision of whether Miranda warnings are required is a judicial measurement of compulsion. Given that some method of measurement is inevitable, the proper method must consider custody and interrogation together, not separately. 336 footnotes and 1 figure