Justices to Review Miranda Frontiers; Man Told Police Location of Gun

Article excerpt

Byline: Frank J. Murray, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Supreme Court agreed yesterday to decide how far the Constitution protects a suspect from his own words when police are prevented from reading the full Miranda rights.

The question arose from a 2001 Colorado gun-possession case against a convicted felon who told police he knew his rights and interrupted their warnings that he could remain silent and have a lawyer.

The Justice Department concedes that Samuel F. Patane was not "Mirandized," but asked the high court to allow the .40-caliber Glock pistol hidden in his bedroom to be placed in evidence even though Patane disclosed its location to detectives who had not fully read him his rights.

Solicitor General Theodore Olson asked the justices to resolve a circuit court split on the question by permitting "fruits of the poisoned tree" to be used as evidence even as the criminal's own words remain inadmissible.

"Suppression of probative physical evidence in such cases imposes serious costs on the administration of justice," Mr. Olson said in petitioning the court to hear his appeal during the term that begins in October.

He told the justices that such situations arise often and argued that Miranda restrictions should not apply when a suspect declines to listen or when warnings are not given "in a fast-moving investigation."

Patane's federal public defender, Jill Wichlens of Denver, declined comment yesterday, but D.C. lawyer Deanne Maynard offered a view for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

"The words out of his mouth led them to this evidence," Miss Maynard said, arguing that the government's concession Patane was not warned should settle the question.

The 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals suppressed the gun as evidence and said the Supreme Court was clear in its 1966 Miranda v. Arizona decision that said, "Unless and until such warnings and waiver are demonstrated by the prosecution at trial, no evidence obtained as a result of interrogation can be used against him. …