ERNESTO MIRANDA

An 18-year-old girl was kidnapped and raped early on the morning of March 3, 1963 in Phoenix, Arizona. The attacker took her out to the desert, raped her, and then dropped her off near her home. The story she told police was at times ambiguous and unintelligible. Coincidentally, the following week she saw the car used in the attack, and recorded the license plate number. The police picked up the car owner's boyfriend, one Ernest Miranda who fit the description of the girl's attacker almost perfectly. The victim did not positively identify Miranda as her assailant, but stated that he looked most like him of all the men in the line-up. The police took him into an interrogation room and told him falsely that he had been positively identified. After two hours of questioning, Miranda confessed. He was appointed a public defender.
At trial, the prosecution only had four witnesses: two detectives on the case, the victim and her sister. The defense called no witnesses, concentrating on cross-examination. For example, the victim had claimed she was a virgin prior to the attack, disproved at trial. She also did not display any bruises or cuts to indicate she had resisted her attacker. Next, the defense counsel prodded one of the detectives into admitting that Miranda was never given the opportunity to seek advice from and attorney prior to his interrogation. Miranda was nevertheless convicted and sentenced to 40-60 years in prison, but he appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided to set guidelines outlining rights during custodial interrogation. Chief Justice Warren wrote: "Prior to any questioning, the person must be warned that he has a right to remain silent, that any statement he does make may be used as evidence against him, and that he has a right to the presence of and attorney, either retained or appointed..."
Subsequently, Miranda's conviction was overturned and he was scheduled for release. Unfortunately for Miranda, he jumped the gun by starting proceedings to obtain custody of his daughter while still imprisoned. The child's mother, who was Miranda's girlfriend at the time of the attack, came forward, agreeing to testify that after his arrest, Miranda had confessed the rape to her. This was all that was needed to keep Miranda imprisoned. Released after serving fourteen years, Miranda was killed in a barroom brawl four years later. Ironically, his assailant was "Mirandized."

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