Criminal Justice: Confusion on Confessions

"The greatest thing since the Magna Carta," cheered a New Jersey defense lawyer. "A black-letter day for law enforcement," mourned a Philadelphia prosecutor. Tossing out two New Jersey murder confessions, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia had just ruled that even voluntary confessions are inadmissible whenever police fail to tell suspects that they have a right to counsel and to remain silent when questioned.

The new decision came from the highest federal court thus far to expand last June's now famous U.S. Supreme Court decision in Escobedo v. Illinois. In that case the Supreme Court reversed Chicago Laborer...

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