Arizona v. Roberson

RESPONDENT: Ronald William Roberson
LOCATION: Pima County Jail

DOCKET NO.: 87-354
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)

CITATION: 486 US 675 (1988)
ARGUED: Mar 29, 1988
DECIDED: Jun 15, 1988

Bruce M. Ferg - For the Petitioner
Paul J. Larkin, Jr. - For the United States, as amicus curiae
Robert L. Barrasso - For the Respondent

Facts of the case

On April 16, 1985, Ronald William Roberson was arrested at the scene of a burglary. The arresting officer read him his Miranda rights, and Roberson asked to see an attorney before answering any questions. On April 19, while Roberson was still in custody on the burglary charge, a different officer, who was unaware that Roberson had requested counsel, interrogated him regarding a robbery that happened on April 15. During this questioning, Roberson gave an incriminating statement. At trial, the trial court suppressed the statement and held that his interrogation without his attorney present after he had requested one violated his Fifth Amendment right to counsel. The Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Arizona Supreme Court denied the petition for review.


Does the interrogation of a suspect after he has requested counsel regarding a separate investigation violate the defendant’s Fifth Amendment rights?

Media for Arizona v. Roberson

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 29, 1988 in Arizona v. Roberson

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 15, 1988 in Arizona v. Roberson

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court in No. 87-354, Arizona against Roberson, will be announced by Justice Stevens.

John Paul Stevens:

This case comes to us from the Court of Appeals of Arizona.

It involves custodial interrogation and its outcome is controlled by two other cases which also came to us from Arizona.

In 1966, in Miranda against Arizona, this Court announced an opinion that was intended to give concrete constitutional guidelines for law enforcement agencies and courts to follow in situations involving the questioning of a suspect being held in custody.

In 1981, in Edwards against Arizona, the Court held that a suspect, who has expressed his desire to deal with police only through counsel, is not subject to further interrogation by the authorities until counsel has been made available to him unless the accused himself initiates further communication.

In 1984, in State against Routhier, the Arizona Supreme Court held that the Edwards' rule applies not only to questioning about the offense which gave rise to the suspect's arrest but also the questioning about an unrelated offense.

In this case, the Arizona courts followed the decision of the State Supreme Court in Routhier and the State has brought the case here for a review asking us to make an exception from the Edwards' rule.

For cases in which the police desire to interrogate a suspect about a second offense that is unrelated to the offense about which he was initially interrogated, we agree with the Arizona Supreme Court that this factual distinction does not have any legal significance for First Amendment purposes.

Accordingly, for reasons stated in the opinion filed with the clerk today, we affirm the judgment of the Arizona Court of Appeals.

Justice Kennedy has filed a dissenting opinion in which the Chief Justice has joined.

Justice O'Connor took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.