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Christopher Bryant 9/27/06 Business Law Missouri v.

Seibert Facts When Patrice Seiberts 12-year-old son Jonathan, who suffered from cerebral palsy, died in his sleep, Seibert feared neglect charges due to bedsores on his body. Two of her sons and two other friends of theirs planned to burn down their mobile home while Donald Rector, a mentally ill teenager living with them, was still asleep inside in order to destroy Jonathons body and any possible incriminating evidence of neglect involving his death, as well as have Rectors body as proof Jonathan had not been left unattended. Seiberts son, Darian, and a friend razed the mobile home and killed Rector in the process. Five days later, police came and arrested Seibert. The arresting officer, Richard Hanrahan, did not recite the Miranda rights at the time of the arrest. She was taken to the police station, left in an interview room, alone, for 15-20 minutes, then questioned for 30-40 minutes, which involved squeezing her arm and repeating, `Donald was also to die in his sleep. Once Seibert had admitted to knowing that Rector was meant to die in the fire, she was given a 20-minute coffee/cigarette break. Upon reconvening, Hanrahan used a tape recorder, read Seibert the Miranda warnings, got her to sign a waiver of rights, and then reinitiated the interrogation with prompts that referenced earlier, prewarning statements, saying things like, Didnt you tell me he was supposed to die in his sleep? and, So he was supposed to die in his sleep? She affirmed the latter question in the post-warning phase. Seibert sought to have her pre/post-warning statements suppressed on alleged violations of the 5th & 14th amendments and Miranda warnings. Hanrahan testified to having made a conscious decision to withhold Miranda warnings, employing an interrogation method where they question first, then give the warnings, and then repeat questioning until I get the answer shes already provided once, in addition to the ultimate statement being more or less a repeat of informationobtained prior to the warnings being given. History Trial court suppressed the pre-warning statements, but allowed the responses given after the Miranda recitation. A jury convicted Seibert of 2nd degree murder, which was affirmed by the Missouri Court of Appeals. However, the Supreme Court of Missouri reversed, holding that, the interrogation was nearly continuous [and that] the second statement, clearly the product of the invalid first statement, should have been suppressed. The U.S. Supreme Court granted the state of Missouris petition for certiorari. Issue Are Seiberts post-warning statements inadmissible due to violations th th of the 5 & 14 amendments and Miranda warnings? Holding Yes, the violations render the evidence suppressible. Reasoning The 5th & 14th amendments protect defendants against compelled selfincrimination in federal and state criminal cases, thus a defendants confession is inadmissible unless it was voluntarily given. Mere recitation of the Miranda litany does not satisfy the intent of the law: the accused must be adequately and effectively apprised of his rights and the exercise of those rights must be fully honored. Seibert was

obviously neither adequately nor effectively informed of her rights. She was questioned before having her rights read to her until a confession was elicited under intense and bewildering circumstances (being left alone for a long while prior to interrogation and then being harassed through extensive and repetitive questioning in combination with physical pressure to reaffirm her guilt). Only then was she allowed a break, and upon returning to begin the second round were her rights read to her and a waiver of rights obtained voluntarily under the pretense that she had already incriminated herself by her previous statements. She was not aware that if she did not sign the waiver, that any statements she had made previously would be inadmissible due to the coercive and circumventive nature of the questioning tactics employed by the interrogator. Almost any person who had been adequately and effectively informed as to the nature of the warnings would have acted in the opposite manner: declining the waiver and discontinuing further interrogation without the aid of legal counsel. She was unaware of these rights, made more confusing and seemingly contradictory with their reading following a line of questioning that had already garnered a confession of guilt, reinforced by the interrogators leading questions in reference to the first, separate round of questioning that had in actuality occurred only minutes earlier in order to cause the accused to simply restate their previous confession that had been obtained illegally and that would not be admissible in order to produce a legal confession that had been given voluntarily and would therefore be admissible. The justices summed up this idea by stating, it is likely that if the interrogators employ the technique of withholding warnings until after interrogation succeeds in eliciting a confession, the warnings will be ineffective in preparing the suspect for successive interrogation, close in time and similar in content. Of the five justices that upheld the suppression of Seiberts second confession, only Justice Kennedy saw the reading of the warnings between the two rounds of interrogation as being reasonably capable of accomplishing their purposes, so long as certain curative measures were implemented, meaning a notable distinction between the pre-warning and post-warning phases of questioning be demonstrated, such as a significant time delay or change in location. Result Supreme Court of Missouris decision affirmed.