Edwards v. Arizona

LOCATION: Dames & Moore

DOCKET NO.: 79-5269
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: Arizona Supreme Court

CITATION: 451 US 477 (1981)
ARGUED: Nov 05, 1980
DECIDED: May 18, 1981

Crane McClennen - on behalf of the Respondent
Michael J. Meehan - on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Edwards v. Arizona

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 05, 1980 in Edwards v. Arizona

Warren E. Burger:

We'll hear arguments first this morning in Edwards v. Arizona.

Mr. Meehan, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Michael J. Meehan:

Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court:

This case is here on certiorari to the Arizona Supreme Court which affirmed a conviction of Petitioner Edwards which included the use of incriminating testimony given by him to police officers at an interrogation just before he was to be given appointive counsel at his first court appearance.

The offenses arise from a robbery of a bar in Tucson, Arizona, in October of 1974.

The case went unsolved for a considerable period of time but ultimately by gaining confessions from two accomplices the police solved the case sometime before January 19, 1976, about 15 months after the offenses.

At that point the police obtained a complaint from a magistrate to determine probable cause to believe that an offense had been committed, who issued an arrest warrant for Robert Edwards.

The police then went to a slum area of Tucson and arrested Edwards, who then was young and indigent, and took him to the Tucson Police Department.

Potter Stewart:

How old was he?

Michael J. Meehan:

He was 23 at that time, Your Honor.

He was 24 at the time of the trial, which was more than a year later.

At the Police Department he was read his Miranda rights, which he said he understood.

He gave a recorded statement at the Tucson Police Department, when interrogated by a police detective named Bunting.

At that time his statement was denying any implication in the offense.

Potter Stewart:

And he had already been formally charged at that time?

Michael J. Meehan:

He had been formally charged, we contend, and the State had agreed with us in the lower courts.

Potter Stewart:

Well, as I understood their brief, they agree with you here.

Michael J. Meehan:

Well, Your Honor, they did until a week ago today when they filed a supplemental brief.

But in their brief they very expressly, in that portion of the argument, agreed that he had been formally charged.

As a matter of fact they agreed in the statement their question presented.

After the tape recording of the statement, Edwards and Detective Bunting had an exchange back and forth about whether he would make a further statement.

He apparently tried to convince the police that they should talk with him about some kind of a deal.

The police said that they would give him a chance to tell his side of the story but they would not entertain any kind of deal.

Ultimately, Edwards was taken for holding overnight at the Pima County jail after he told Detective Bunting in words to the effect: I'm not going to make a statement now, I'm not going to make a deal now, I'm going to wait until I get my attorney.

Warren E. Burger:

Do you think forever after he would be... that no statement would be admissible?

Michael J. Meehan:

Mr. Chief Justice.

Warren E. Burger:

Well, that's what I had in mind.

Michael J. Meehan:

I think that 1:30 when he was given a first arraignment, or possibly if he had, of his own, changed his mind and decided that he wanted to talk further with the police; yes, he should not have been interrogated without--

Warren E. Burger:

So your position is, he could change his mind and agree to speak?

Michael J. Meehan:

--My position is that under the right circumstances I think he might be able to change his mind.