Berghuis v. Thompkins

560 U.S. 370 (2010)


Morris died from multiple gunshot wounds and another victim, France, recovered from his injuries and testified. Thompkins (D) fled. D was found in Ohio and arrested there. Two police officers traveled to Ohio to interrogate D, then awaiting transfer to Michigan. The interrogation began around 1:30 p.m. and lasted about three hours. One of the officers presented D with a form derived from the Miranda rule. The officer asked D to read the fifth warning out loud. D complied. The officer then read the other four Miranda warnings out loud and asked D to sign the form to demonstrate that he understood his rights. D declined to sign the form. There is conflicting evidence about whether D then verbally confirmed that he understood the rights. Officers began an interrogation. At no point during the interrogation did D say that he wanted to remain silent, that he did not want to talk with the police, or that he wanted an attorney. About 2 hours and 45 minutes into the interrogation, an officer asked D, 'Do you believe in God?' D said 'Yes,' as his eyes 'well[ed] up with tears.' D was asked, 'Do you pray to God?' D said 'Yes.' D was then asked, 'Do you pray to God to forgive you for shooting that boy down?' D answered 'Yes' and looked away. D refused to make a written confession, and the interrogation ended about 15 minutes later. D moved to suppress the statements made during the interrogation. He argued that he had invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, requiring police to end the interrogation at once. The trial court denied the motion. The jury found D guilty. D appealed, and the Michigan Court of Appeals rejected the Miranda claim, ruling that D had not invoked his right to remain silent and had waived it. The Michigan Supreme Court denied discretionary review. The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed, ruling for D. The Court of Appeals acknowledged that a waiver of the right to remain silent need not be express, as it can be '`inferred from the actions and words of the person interrogated.'' The panel held that the state court was unreasonable in finding an implied waiver in the circumstances here. According to the Court of Appeals, D's 'persistent silence for nearly three hours in response to questioning and repeated invitations to tell his side of the story offered a clear and unequivocal message to the officers: D did not wish to waive his rights.' The Supreme Court granted certiorari.