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Silence During Interrogation Does Not Invoke Right To Remain Silent

By FindLaw Staff | Last updated on

In Berghuis v. Thompkins, No. 08-1470, a murder prosecution, the Supreme Court reversed the Sixth Circuit's reversal of the district court's denial of petitioner's habeas petition, holding that the state court's decision rejecting petitioner's Miranda claim was correct under de novo review and therefore necessarily reasonable under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act's more deferential standard of review because petitioner's silence during his interrogation did not invoke his right to remain silent.

As the Court wrote:  "The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in a habeas corpus proceeding challenging a Michigan conviction for first-degree murder and certain other offenses, ruled that there had been two separate constitutional errors in the trial that led to the jury's guilty verdict. First, the Court of Appeals determined that a statement by the accused, relied on at trial by the prosecution, had been elicited in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). Second, it found that failure to ask for an instruction relating to testimony from an accomplice was ineffective assistance by defense counsel. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). Both of these contentions had been rejected in Michigan courts and in the habeas corpus proceedings before the United States District Court. Certiorari was granted to review the decision by the Court of Appeals on both points. The warden of a Michigan correctional facility is the petitioner here, and Van Chester Thompkins, who was convicted, is the respondent."

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