ARIZONA V. MAURO, 481 U. S. 520 (1987)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Arizona v. Mauro, 481 U.S. 520 (1987)

Arizona v. Mauro

No. 85-2121

Argued March 31, 1987

Decided May 4, 1987

481 U.S. 520


After being advised of his Miranda rights while in custody for killing his son, respondent stated that he did not wish to answer any questions until a lawyer was present. All questioning then ceased and respondent was placed in the police captain's office, since there was no secure detention area. Following her questioning in another room, respondent's wife insisted that she be allowed to speak with her husband. Although reluctant at first, the police allowed the meeting in the office on the condition that an officer be present. Using a recorder placed in plain sight, the officer taped a brief conversation, during which the wife expressed despair, and respondent told her not to answer questions until a lawyer was present. The prosecution used the tape to rebut respondent's insanity defense, the trial court having refused to suppress it upon finding that the police's actions were not a subterfuge to avoid the dictates of Miranda. Respondent was convicted and sentenced to death, but the Arizona Supreme Court reversed, holding that the police had impermissibly interrogated respondent within the meaning of Miranda. Noting police admissions that they knew it was "possible" that respondent might make incriminating statements if he saw his wife, the court relied on the ruling in Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U. S. 291, that "interrogation" includes a practice -- whether actual questioning or "its functional equivalent" -- that the police know is reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from a suspect. According to Innis, the likelihood-of-response question focuses primarily upon the perceptions of the suspect, rather than the intent of the police.

Held: The police's actions following respondent's refusal to be questioned without a lawyer did not constitute interrogation or its functional equivalent. The purpose of Miranda and Innis is to prevent the government from using the coercive nature of confinement to extract confessions that would not be given in an unrestrained environment. This purpose is not implicated here, since respondent was not subjected to compelling influences, psychological ploys, or direct questioning. There is no evidence that the police allowed the wife to meet with respondent in order to obtain incriminating statements. Moreover, police testimony, which the trial court found credible, indicated a number of legitimate reasons for an officer's presence at the meeting, including the wife's safety and various security considerations. Furthermore, an examination of the situation

Page 481 U. S. 521

from respondent's perspective demonstrates the improbability that he would have felt he was being coerced to incriminate himself simply because he was told his wife would be allowed to speak to him. Although the police were indeed aware that it was "possible" respondent would incriminate himself while talking to his wife, police do not "interrogate" a suspect simply by hoping he will confess. Thus, respondent's statements to his wife were voluntary, and their use at his trial was not prohibited by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Pp. 481 U. S. 525-530.

149 Ariz. 24, 716 P.2d 393, reversed and remanded.

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J.,and WHITE, O'CONNOR, and SCALIA, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN, MARSHALL, and BLACKMUN, JJ., joined, post, p. 481 U. S. 530.

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