Criminal Justice: After Escobedo

In one landmark decision after an other, the Supreme Court has been extending the constitutional rights of state criminal defendants. Such decisions frequently confront lower courts with two puzzling questions: Do they apply to all crimes? Do they apply retroactively to already convicted criminals?

Latest case in point is Escobedo v. Illinois. In 1960, Chicago police questioned a 20-year-old Mexican laborer named Danny Escobedo until he admitted complicity in his brother-in-law's slaying. The police never advised Danny of his right to remain silent; he was not allowed to consult his lawyer. Because the lawyer had previously told him not...

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