Arizona v. Roberson Case Brief

Facts of the Case

Defendant Roberson was arrested for burglary and was given the warnings required by. Defendant replied that he wanted a lawyer before answering any questions, and this fact was duly recorded in the arresting officer’s report. Three days later, while defendant was still in police custody, a second officer interrogated him about a previous burglary. The second officer, who was not aware that defendant had earlier requested counsel, advised defendant of his rights and obtained an incriminating statement concerning the previous burglary. In the prosecution for that offense in an Arizona trial court, that statement was suppressed. The trial court based its ruling on a decision from the Supreme Court of Arizona that applied the rule established in, that a criminal suspect undergoing custodial interrogation who has expressed a desire to deal with the police only through counsel was not subject to further interrogation by the authorities until counsel was made available to the suspect, unless the suspect initiated further communication, exchanges, or conversations with the police. The Court of Appeals of Arizona, Division Two, affirmed the suppression order, and the Supreme Court of Arizona denied a petition for review.




“Yes. Justice John Paul Stevens delivered the opinion for the 6-2 majority. The Supreme Court held that, once a suspect has requested counsel, police cannot interrogate him unless he initiates the contact. The Fifth Amendment and the Supreme Court’s previous rulings on it are meant to serve as a bright-line rule for police officers. The Court also held that Roberson’s request for counsel was because of his discomfort with answering the police’s questions, and there is no reason to assume that discomfort would be