WASHINGTON, June 23 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Courtroom on Thursday shielded police from the chance of paying cash damages for failing to advise legal suspects of their rights earlier than acquiring statements later used towards them in court docket, siding with a Los Angeles County deputy sheriff.
The justices dominated 6-3 in favor of deputy sheriff Carlos Vega, who had appealed a decrease court docket resolution reviving a lawsuit by a hospital worker named Terence Tekoh who accused the officer of violating his rights underneath the U.S. Structure’s Fifth Modification safety towards self-incrimination.
Tekoh was charged with sexually assaulting a hospital affected person after Vega obtained a written confession from him with out first informing the suspect of his rights by way of so-called Miranda warnings. Tekoh was acquitted at trial.
The court docket’s six conservatives have been within the majority within the ruling written by Justice Samuel Alito, with its three liberal members dissenting.
The rights at challenge have been delineated within the Supreme Courtroom’s a landmark 1966 Miranda v. Arizona ruling that, underneath the Fifth Modification, police amongst different issues should inform legal suspects of their proper to stay silent and have a lawyer current throughout interrogations earlier than any statements they make could also be utilized in a legal trial.
Vega was backed by President Joe Biden’s administration within the enchantment.
At challenge was whether or not the use in court docket of statements collected from suspects who haven’t been given a Miranda warning could give rise to a civil lawsuit towards the investigating officer underneath a federal legislation that lets individuals sue authorities officers for violating their constitutional rights.
Vega in 2014 investigated a declare by a Los Angeles hospital affected person that Tekoh, who labored as an attendant on the facility, had touched her inappropriately whereas she was incapacitated on a hospital mattress. Vega mentioned Tekoh voluntarily supplied a written confession regardless that he was not underneath arrest or in custody.
Tekoh disputes Vega’s model of occasions and contends that he was interrogated by Vega, who coerced a false confession.
Tekoh was arrested and charged in state court docket with sexual assault. His incriminating assertion was admitted as proof throughout the trial, however a jury acquitted him. Tekoh then sued Vega in federal court docket, accusing the officer of violating his Fifth Modification rights by extracting an incriminating assertion with out Miranda warnings, main it for use towards him in a legal prosecution.
The jury reached a verdict in favor of Vega, however the San Francisco-based ninth U.S. Circuit Courtroom of Appeals in 2021 ordered a brand new trial on the officer’s legal responsibility.
The ninth Circuit discovered that utilizing a press release taken with no Miranda warning towards a defendant in a legal trial violates the Fifth Modification, giving rise to a declare for financial damages towards the officer who obtains the assertion.
Interesting to the Supreme Courtroom, Vega’s attorneys mentioned in a authorized submitting that the ninth Circuit’s resolution threatened to “saddle police departments nationwide with extraordinary burdens in reference to lawful and applicable investigative work.” Vega’s legal professionals added that “nearly any police interplay with a legal suspect” would possibly result in legal responsibility for officers.
Reporting by Andrew Chung; Extra reporting by Jonathan Allen; Modifying by Will Dunham