Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Reminding my readers of the Supreme Court decision in 1966

I quote from the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Miranda vs. Arizona:
The conclusion of the Wickersham Commission Report, made over 30 years ago, is still pertinent:
"To the contention that the third degree is necessary to get the facts, the reporters aptly reply in the language of the present Lord Chancellor of England (Lord Sankey):"
"It is not admissible to do a great right by doing a little wrong. . . . It is not sufficient to do justice by obtaining a proper result by irregular or improper means."........
We agree with the conclusion expressed in the report, that
"The third degree brutalizes the police, hardens the prisoner against society, and lowers the esteem in which the administration of Justice is held by the public."
And (footnotes removed):
The whole thrust of our foregoing discussion demonstrates that the Constitution has prescribed the rights of the individual when confronted with the power of government when it provided in the Fifth Amendment that an individual cannot be compelled to be a witness against himself. That right cannot be abridged. As Mr. Justice Brandeis once observed:
"Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperilled if it fail to observe the law scrupulously. Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that, in the administration of the criminal law, the end justifies the means . . . would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this Court should resolutely set its face."
Olmstead v. United States, 277 U. S. 438, 277 U. S. 485 (1928) (dissenting opinion). In this connection, one of our country's distinguished jurists has pointed out: "The quality of a nation's civilization can be largely measured by the methods it uses in the enforcement of its criminal law."

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