PENNSYLVANIA V. MUNIZ, 496 U. S. 582 (1990)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Pennsylvania v. Muniz, 496 U.S. 582 (1990)

Pennsylvania v. Muniz

No. 89-213

Argued Feb. 27, 1990

Decided June 18, 1990

496 U.S. 582


Respondent Muniz was arrested for driving while under the influence on a Pennsylvania highway. Without being advised of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S. 436, he was taken to a Booking Center where, as was the routine practice, he was told that his actions and voice would be videotaped. He then answered seven questions regarding his name, address, height, weight, eye color, date of birth, and current age, stumbling over two responses. He was also asked, and was unable to give, the date of his sixth birthday. In addition, he made several incriminating statements while he performed physical sobriety tests and when he was asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. He refused to take the breathalyzer test and was advised, for the first time, of his Miranda rights. Both the video and audio portions of the tape were admitted at trial, and he was convicted. His motion for a new trial on the ground that the court should have excluded, inter alia, the videotape was denied. The Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed. While finding that the videotape of the sobriety testing exhibited physical rather than testimonial evidence within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment, the court concluded that Muniz's answers to questions and his other verbalizations were testimonial and, thus, the audio portion of the tape should have been suppressed in its entirety.

Held: The judgment is vacated and remanded.

377 Pa.Super. 382, 547 A.2d 419, (1988), vacated and remanded.

Justice BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, III-A, III-B, and IV, concluding that only Muniz's response to the sixth birthday question constitutes a testimonial response to custodial interrogation for purposes of the Self-Incrimination Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Pp. 496 U. S. 588-600, 496 U. S. 602-605.

(a) The privilege against self-incrimination protects an "accused from being compelled to testify against himself, or otherwise provide the State with evidence of a testimonial or communicative nature," Schmerber v. California, 384 U. S. 757, 384 U. S. 761, but not from being compelled by the State to produce "real or physical evidence," id. at 384 U. S. 764. To be testimonial, the communication must, "explicitly or implicitly, relate a factual assertion or disclose information." Doe v. United States, 487 U. S. 201, 487 U. S. 210. Pp. 496 U. S. 588-590.

Page 496 U. S. 583

(b) Muniz's answers to direct questions are not rendered inadmissible by Miranda merely because the slurred nature of his speech was incriminating. Under Schmerber and its progeny, any slurring of speech and other evidence of lack of muscular coordination revealed by his responses constitute nontestimonial components of those responses. Requiring a suspect to reveal the physical manner in which he articulates words, like requiring him to reveal the physical properties of the sound of his voice by reading a transcript, see United States v. Dionisio, 410 U. S. 1, does not, without more, compel him to provide a "testimonial" response for purposes of the privilege. Pp. 496 U. S. 590-592.

(c) However, Muniz's response to the sixth birthday question was incriminating not just because of his delivery, but also because the content of his answer supported an inference that his mental state was confused. His response was testimonial because he was required to communicate an express or implied assertion of fact or belief and, thus, was confronted with the "trilemma" of truth, falsity, or silence, the historical abuse against which the privilege against self-incrimination was aimed. By hypothesis, the custodial interrogation's inherently coercive environment precluded the option of remaining silent, so he was left with the choice of incriminating himself by admitting the truth that he did not then know the date of his sixth birthday, or answering untruthfully by reporting a date that he did not know was accurate (which would also have been incriminating). Since the state court's holdings that the sixth birthday question constituted an unwarned interrogation and that Muniz's answer was incriminating were not challenged, this testimonial response should have been suppressed. Pp. 496 U. S. 592-600.

(d) Muniz's incriminating utterances during the sobriety and breathalyzer tests were not prompted by an interrogation within the meaning of Miranda, and should not have been suppressed. The officer's dialogue with Muniz concerning the physical sobriety tests consisted primarily of carefully scripted instructions as to how the tests were to be performed that were not likely to be perceived as calling for any verbal response. Therefore, they were not "words or actions" constituting custodial interrogation, and Muniz's incriminating utterances were "voluntary." The officer administering the breathalyzer test also carefully limited her role to providing Muniz with relevant information about the test and the implied consent law. She questioned him only as to whether he understood her instructions and wished to submit to the test. These limited and focused inquiries were necessarily "attendant to" a legitimate police procedure, and were not likely to be perceived as calling for any incriminating response. Pp. 496 U. S. 602-605.

Justice BRENNAN, joined by Justice O'CONNOR, Justice SCALIA, and Justice KENNEDY, concluded in Part III-C that the first seven

Page 496 U. S. 584

questions asked Muniz fall outside Miranda protections and need not be suppressed. Although they constituted custodial interrogation, see Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U. S. 291, they are nonetheless admissible because the questions were asked "for recordkeeping purposes only," and therefore they fall within a "routine booking question" exception which exempts from Miranda's coverage questions to secure the "biographical data necessary to complete booking or pretrial services," United States v. Horton, 873 F.2d 180, 181, n. 2. Pp. 496 U. S. 600-602.

THE CHIEF JUSTICE, joined by Justice WHITE, Justice BLACKMUN, and Justice STEVENS, concluded that Muniz's responses to the "booking" questions were not testimonial, and therefore do not warrant application of the privilege. P. 496 U. S. 608.

BRENNAN, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, II, III-A, and IV, in which REHNQUIST, C.J.,and WHITE, BLACKMUN, STEVENS, O'CONNOR, SCALIA, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined, the opinion of the Court with respect to Part III-B, in which MARSHALL, O'CONNOR, SCALIA, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Part III-C, in which O'CONNOR, SCALIA, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. REHNQUIST, C.J.,filed an opinion concurring in part, concurring in the result in part, and dissenting in part, in which WHITE, BLACKMUN, and STEVENS, JJ., joined, post, p. 496 U. S. 606. MARSHALL, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, post, p. 496 U. S. 608.

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