NORTH CAROLINA V. BUTLER, 441 U. S. 369 (1979)

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U.S. Supreme Court

North Carolina v. Butler, 441 U.S. 369 (1979)

North Carolina v. Butler

No. 78-354

Argued March 27, 1979

Decided April 24, 1979

441 U.S. 369


Respondent, while under arrest for certain crimes and after being advised of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S. 436, made incriminating statements to the arresting officers. His motion to suppress evidence of these statements on the ground that he had not waived his right to assistance of counsel at the time the statements were made was denied by a North Carolina trial court, and he was subsequently convicted. The North Carolina Supreme Court reversed, holding that Miranda requires that no statement of a person under custodial interrogation may be admitted in evidence against him unless, at the time the statement was made, he explicitly waived the right to the presence of a lawyer.

Held: An explicit statement of waiver is not invariably necessary to support a finding that the defendant waived the right to counsel guaranteed by the Miranda case. The question of waiver must be determined on the particular facts and circumstances surrounding the case, and there is no reason in a case such as this for a per se rule, such as that of the North Carolina Supreme Court. By creating an inflexible rule that no implicit waiver can ever suffice, that court has gone beyond the requirements of federal organic law, and thus its judgment cannot stand, since a state court can neither add to nor subtract from the mandates of the United States Constitution. Pp. 441 U. S. 372-376.

295 N.C. 250, 244 S.E.2d 410, vacated and remanded.

STEWART, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and WHITE, BLACKMUN, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BLACKUN, J., filed a concurring statement, post, p. 441 U. S. 376. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which MARSHALL and STEVENS, JJ., joined, post, p. 441 U. S. 377. POWELL, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Page 441 U. S. 370

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