U.S. Supreme Court Rules to Protect Police From Lawsuits Over Miranda Rights Violations

The United States Supreme Court ruled on June 23 that law enforcement officers who fail to warn criminal suspects about their Miranda rights prior to questioning cannot be sued.

In a six to three vote, the Justices ruled that a police officer cannot be subjected to civil lawsuits over their failure to notify individuals taken into custody of their rights to remain silent, speak with an attorney, and ask for that attorney to be present during interactions with police, even if the evidence was ultimately used against them in a criminal trial.

The ruling effectively protects police officers against civil litigation while also limiting individual protections against self-incrimination.

The Court clarified that although the Miranda warning protects a constitutional right, the warning itself is not a right that can spark a civil lawsuit.

“A violation of Miranda does not necessarily constitute a violation of the Constitution,” Justice Samuel Alito, joined by five other Republican-appointed justices, wrote in an opinion.

Meanwhile, Justice Elena Kagan, joined by Justices Stephen Beyer and Sonia Sotomayor, argued that the ruling “strips individuals of the ability to seek a remedy for violations of the right recognized in Miranda.”

The ruling came from a case involving Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Vega and Terence Tekoh, a hospital worker accused of sexual assault in 2014.

Tekoh alleged that Vega failed to provide him with Miranda warnings before being questioned.

Tekoh was ultimately acquitted of the crime but later sued Vega in federal court for the Miranda violation.

The ruling is the latest decision by the Supreme Court that prevents individuals from seeking civil damages from law enforcement officers after a procedural violation.


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