Minnesota v. Murphy

RESPONDENT:Marshall Donald Murphy
LOCATION:Alpha House

DOCKET NO.: 82-827
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: Minnesota Supreme Court

CITATION: 465 US 420 (1984)
ARGUED: Oct 12, 1983
DECIDED: Feb 22, 1984
GRANTED: Jan 17, 1983

David A. Strauss – on behalf of U.S. as amicus curiae
Mark S. Wernick – on behalf of the Respondent
Robert H. Lynn – on behalf of the Petitioner

Facts of the case

In 1974, Marshall Murphy was questioned by Minneapolis police about the rape and murder of a teenage girl, but he was never charged. In 1980, Murphy pleaded guilty to false imprisonment in an unrelated criminal sexual conduct case and was sentenced to a 16-month suspended prison sentence and three years probation. During probation, Murphy was required to participate in a treatment program for sex offenders at Alpha House and to see a probation officer. While at Alpha House, Murphy admitted to the 1974 rape and murder. An Alpha House counselor contacted Murphy’s probation officer about the admission and the officer called Murphy in for a meeting. During the meeting Murphy became angry and said he “felt like calling a lawyer” but still admitted to the rape and murder. The probation officer relayed the information from the meeting to the police, and Murphy was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

At trial, Murphy tried to suppress testimony about the confession, arguing that it was obtained in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. The trial court found that Murphy was not in custody at the time of the confession, and the confession was not compelled or involuntary. The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed, concluding that the confession violated the Fifth Amendment because Murphy’s parole officer knew that Murphy’s answers were likely to be incriminating.


Does the Fifth Amendment require suppression of a probationer’s incriminating admissions where the probationer is required to meet with his probation officer and to be truthful, and the probation officer has reason to believe that the probationer’s answers to her questions are likely to be incriminating?

Media for Minnesota v. Murphy

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – October 12, 1983 in Minnesota v. Murphy

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – February 22, 1984 in Minnesota v. Murphy

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in Minnesota against Murphy will be announced by Justice White.

Byron R. White:

In this case which is No. 82-827 here from the Minnesota Supreme Court, the respondent Murphy made admissions to his probation officer that he had committed another crime prior to his most recent conviction.

These admissions were relayed to the authorities and Murphy wasn’t indicted and convicted for the prior crime.

Over his objections, his admissions to his probation officer were used against him at his trial — at his trial.

The Minnesota Supreme Court, however, on appeal held that the use of these statements against Murphy violated his rights not to be compelled to incriminate himself contrary to the guarantees of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Federal Constitution.

We granted certiorari and for the reasons stated in the opinion we have filed, we reverse the judgment of the Minnesota court.

In our view, Murphy’s rights were not violated by the use of those admissions.

Justice Marshall has filed a dissenting opinion in which Justice Stevens has joined and all that Part II-A which Justice Brennan has joined.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Justice White.