LOCATION: Virginia Citizens Consumer Council
DOCKET NO.: 75-5014
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court
CITATION: 426 US 610 (1976)
ARGUED: Feb 23, 1976
DECIDED: Jun 17, 1976
James R. Willis - for petitioners
Ronald L. Collins - for the respondent, pro hac vice, by special leave of Court
Facts of the case
Media for Doyle v. OhioAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 23, 1976 in Doyle v. Ohio
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 17, 1976 in Doyle v. Ohio
Warren E. Burger:
The judgments and opinion of the Court in 75-5014, Doyle against Ohio and 75-5015 Wood against Ohio would be announced by Mr. Justice Powell.
Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:
These two criminal cases, involving identical circumstances are here on certiorari to the Court of Appeals of Ohio.
When the defendants were arrested, they were given the customary Miranda warnings.
These included advice that they had the right to remain silent, that anything they said could be used against them and that and they had a right to counsel before submitting to interrogation.
At that trial, the defendants took the stand and offered for the first time a novel explanation of their conduct.
If believed, this explanation would clear them of criminality.
On cross examination, the prosecutor pressed defendants as to why they had not advised the police at the time of arrest of exculpatory facts.
The inference sought to be drawn by the prosecutor, was that defendant's silence at the time of arrest indicated that, their present story was a fabrication.
The Trial Court allowed the cross examination, the Ohio Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction.
We now reverse.
When as required by law an arrested person is advised of his right to remain silent.
We think it fundamentally unfair and a denial of Due Process to allow the arrested person's silence to be used to impeach exculpatory testimony offered at the Trial.
Mr. Justice Stevens has filed a dissenting opinion in which Mr. justice Blackmun and Mr. justice Rehnquist have joined.
Warren E. Burger:
Thank you, Mr. Justice Powell.