Tuesday, June 25, 2013

US Supreme Court Declares that the Right to Remain Silent Requires that You Speak Up Before Holding Your Peace

So, in a case that found itself before the Supreme Court of the United States, Salinas v. Texas, a man charged with felony murder opted not to speak while being questioned about whether or not his shotgun might match shell casings found at the scene of a murder. The man was not under arrest and he wasn't read his rights, but in Texas, almost everyone has a shotgun and, personally, I can see someone not wanting to say anything because it will look like they were involved just because they'd admitted having visited the two brothers who were killed. The man was subsequently charged and challenged the fact that police used his behaviors during the potential witness interview as evidence of his guilt. He hadn't been arrested, he didn't have a lawyer, so he just stopped answering questions rather than potentially incriminate himself.

Now, I don't know if he is guilty or not - that's between him and God. But, knowing Texas's love of capital punishment for almost any reason, I can see someone realizing they might be a suspect and simply shutting up. He and his lawyer believed that not speaking in a way that might be considered self-incriminating by those looking for a suspect was his right. Not according to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled on June 19, 2013, that a person MUST invoke their Fifth Amendment Right verbally or their being silent doesn't count. Even if they haven't been read those rights!!

I'm sorry, but this is just wrong - totally wrong. You have to speak first and announce that you are pleading the Fifth or it doesn't count as the right to be silent??? Are you flipping kidding me???

Little by little, the rights put into place by our founding fathers who knew what it was like to live under a government that could readily convict anyone of anything without evidence are being whittled away. Chip by chip, like a sculpture, pieces of the Bill of Rights are falling to the ground. What remains, in the future, is anyone's guess - unless we find a way to put a stop to it. I realize the Supreme Court interprets the meaning of a law or the validity of a law, but this is actually saying that the right to be silent doesn't really mean be silent unless you tell someone you're going to remain silent! How convoluted can you get?

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