Monday, April 22, 2013

Mirandizing the Boston Bomber?

Like a lot of people, I sat transfixed watching events unfold in Boston last week.  Of course, and this says a lot about modern media, most of my information came from Twitter, and not from the usual news sources.  Their failures - particularly the slanderous allegations in the New York Post - will be the subject of future litigation and handwringing, I am sure.

That said, I would like to make a short comment about the way the Obama Administration is dealing with the surviving Boston bombing suspect (who's name I won't mention because it gives him more press than he deserves and his name is hard to spell).  I completely appreciate the fact that the Obama Administration is treating the suspect as a criminal, and not as an enemy combatant.  Doing the latter, as opposed to the former, would only serve to elevate the suspect beyond the level of criminality that he does not deserve (allegedly).

The decision to not mirandize the suspect - to inform him of his right to remain silent, and his right to an attorney - is probably a poor decision, but not for the constitutional reasons most people set forth.

Remember, that a miranda warning deals only with the right to not make incriminating statements to be used against the suspect.  From what I've gathered, there is a mountain of evidence against the suspect, including when he allegedly told a carjacking victim that he had performed the Boston bombings (that could have been his brother, but since he was in the car, I don't think it matters).  The explosives, and bullets the suspect and his brother carried on him, along with the video evidence, all indicate guilt.  In other words, the Feds don't need the suspect to confess - the case is pretty strong as is.  And so, a warning to not make incriminating statements (and the withholding of any confession), is probably useless in this case.

Instead the Feds are interrogating the suspect under the "public safety" exception to Miranda, which I think is dumb for one reason only - a lawyer would help everyone involved.  Right now, this 19 year old kid is being interrogated without anyone advising him.  If he truly committed the crimes alleged (and that seems pretty clear that he did), and he performed these crimes at the behest of his older brother, then he's not the sharpest tool in the box.  An attorney, knowing that his client is screwed (and this kid is either going to death row, or SuperMax prison for life), will try to cut a deal.  He'll ask his client about other terrorist groups he knows about, what other crimes, and use that information to try to cut some kind of deal for his client.  Here, I'd suspect the deal would take the death penalty off the table, maybe even a plea deal to avoid trial.

Left to his own devices, the suspect may do something stupid - like not divulge anything.  He might think that his life is over, and that he might as well die a matyr.  The older brother probably would have done just that.  But I think this kid isn't at all like his brother.  I think that the option of living may be tempting - and an attorney may help him realize that.  In other words, this is an instance where the presence of an attorney helps everyone.

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