June 28th, 2022 by Rieders Travis in Civil Rights

Vega v. Tekoh, 2022 U.S. LEXIS 3053 (S. Ct. June 23, 2022) (Alito, J.)  This case presents the question whether a plaintiff may sue a police officer under Rev. Stat. §1979, 42 U. S. C. §1983, based on the allegedly improper admission of an “un-Mirandized” statement in a criminal prosecution. The case arose out of the interrogation of respondent, Terence Tekoh, by petitioner, Los Angeles County Sheriff ’s Deputy Carlos Vega. Deputy Vega questioned Tekoh at his place of employment and did not give him a Miranda warning. Tekoh was prosecuted, and his confession was admitted into evidence, but the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. Tekoh then sued Vega under §1983, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the use of Tekoh’s un-Mirandized statement provided a valid basis for a §1983 claim against Vega. We now reject this extension of our Miranda case law. If a Miranda violation were tantamount to a violation of the Fifth Amendment, our answer would of course be different.  The Fifth Amendment, made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth AmendmentMalloy v. Hogan, 378 U. S. 1, 6, 84 S. Ct. 1489, 12 L. Ed. 2d 653 (1964), provides that “[n]o person . . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” This Clause “permits a person to refuse to testify against himself at a criminal trial in which he is a defendant” and “also ‘privileges him not to answer official questions put to him in any other proceeding, civil or criminal, formal or informal, where the answers might incriminate him in future criminal proceedings.’” Minnesota v. Murphy, 465 U. S. 420, 426, 104 S. Ct. 1136, 79 L. Ed. 2d 409 (1984) (quoting Lefkowitz v. Turley, 414 U. S. 70, 77, 94 S. Ct. 316, 38 L. Ed. 2d 274 (1973)). In addition, the right bars the introduction against a criminal defendant of out-of-court statements obtained by compulsion. See, e.g.Bram v. United States, 168 U. S. 532, 565, 18 S. Ct. 183, 42 L. Ed. 568 (1897)Miranda, 384 U. S., at 466, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694Michigan v. Tucker, 417 U. S. 433, 440-442, 94 S. Ct. 2357, 41 L. Ed. 2d 182 (1974).  In Miranda, the Court concluded that additional procedural protections were necessary to prevent the violation of this important right when suspects who are in custody are interrogated by the police. To afford this protection, the Court required that custodial interrogation be preceded by the now-familiar warnings mentioned above, and it directed that statements obtained in violation of these new rules may not be used by the prosecution in its case-in-chief. 384 U. S., at 444, 479, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694.  In this case, the Ninth Circuit held—and Tekoh now argues, Brief for Respondent 20—that a violation of Miranda constitutes a violation of the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination, but that is wrong.  Miranda itself and our subsequent cases make clear that Miranda imposed a set of prophylactic rules. Those rules, to be sure, are “constitutionally based,” Dickerson, 530 U. S., at 440, 120 S. Ct. 2326, 147 L. Ed. 2d 405, but they are prophylactic rules nonetheless. Because a violation of Miranda is not itself a violation of the Fifth Amendment, and because we see no justification for expanding Miranda to confer a right to sue under §1983, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Attorney Cliff Rieders

Attorney Cliff RiedersCliff Rieders is a Nationally Board Certified Trial Lawyer practicing personal injury law. A large part of his practice involves multi-district litigation, including cases related to pharmaceuticals, vitamin supplements and medical devices. He is admitted in several state and federal courts, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States. Rieders is the past regional president of the Federal Bar Association and is a life member of the distinguished American Law Institute, which promulgates proposed rules adopted by many state courts. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. As a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, he served on the Board for 15 years.

Not only has Rieders held many highly esteemed, leadership positions, he authored legislation related to the Patient Safety Authority and the Mcare Act, which governs medical and hospital liability actions in Pennsylvania. He authored texts upon which both practitioners and judges rely, including Pennsylvania Malpractice Laws and Forms, and Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania, the latter governing auto and truck collisions in Pennsylvania. In addition, he wrote several books on the practice of law in Pennsylvania regarding wrongful death and survivor actions, insurance bad faith, legal malpractice claims and worker rights, among others. Rieders also serves as a resource to practitioners as a regular speaker for Celesq, an arm of the world’s largest legal publisher, Thomson Reuters West Publishing.

As recognition of his wide range of contribution to his profession and of his dedication to protecting the rights of his clients, he received numerous awards, among them the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, the Milton D. Rosenberg Award, the B’nai B’rith Justice Award, and awards of recognition from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. [ Attorney Bio ]



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