'Justice Denied'

The uncoerced confession of a murderer who waived his right to an attorney is not a denial of justice. It is a way of making sure that society protects the rights of individuals.

Before the defendant's statements could be used against him in court the "powerful" state must prove the defendant's admission was voluntary. As Justice Sandra Day O'Connor stated, ". . . once it is determined that a suspect's decision . . . was uncoerced, that he at all times knew he could stand mute and request a lawyer . . . that he was aware of the state's intention to use his statements to secure a conviction . . . the waiver (by the defendant of his right to an attorney) is valid . . . Events occurring outside the presence of the suspect and entirely unknown to him surely can have no bearing on the capacity to comprehend and knowingly relinquish a constitutional right."

The Miranda ruling was established to appraise defendants of their constitutional rights. The decision was never intended to thwart legitimate criminal investigations. There comes a point when the community, through the law, law enforcement, and a fair judiciary, must decide if the cost to society of granting a particular constitutional protection to a criminal suspect exceeds the benefit of an incremental increase in the fairness of the court proceedings.

The Burbine decision stands merely for the proposition that "that of which the defendant is unaware cannot affect the defendant's ability to waive his right to an attorney."



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