Even if you aren’t familiar with the justice system, most people have heard of Miranda rights by watching TV. These are rights that are guaranteed to a person when he/she is arrested and the police want to interrogate the person. Before the police question anyone they have placed in custody, they must read these rights and make certain that the suspect either agrees or disagrees with them. It is not ambiguous. The person has to explicitly agree to talk to the police knowing that he doesn’t have to. These are the Miranda rights: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
When a police officer testifies falsely that the defendant waived his Miranda rights, what happens if the District Attorney doesn’t reveal there is a video tape of the interview that shows the defendant didn’t give up his Miranda rights?
That’s what happened in the recent case of People v Harrison decided by the 2nd District Court of Appeal (B272132 decided October 26, 2017). The detective testified that he gave the defendant his Miranda rights and then the defendant confessed. However, a videotape of the interrogation came to light and it was clear that the defendant invoked his right to remain silent.
The trial lawyer tried to get a new trial based on this newly discovered evidence. The trial judge denied the motion saying the lawyer waived the issue by not objecting. The Court of Appeal reversed saying that under Brady 373 (US 83) the DA has to disclose the videotape and failure to do so (even if the DA didn’t know about the videotape) requires a new trial.
The clear warning here is to object to the introduction of a confession since it may be false or it may be that the defendant didn’t actually waive his rights. In addition, it is a must for the defense lawyer to demand all videotape and/or audio tape from the DA before trial so this type of miscarriage of justice doesn’t happen. I doubt anything happened to the lying police officer either but that’s the way it is. That is another example of why it is so important to get the best lawyer you can and make sure the all the right moves are made.