Moran v. Burbine

PETITIONER: John Moran, Superintendent of the Rhode Island Dept. of Corrections
RESPONDENT: Brian K. Burbine
LOCATION: Cranston Police Station

DOCKET NO.: 84-1485
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

CITATION: 475 US 412 (1986)
ARGUED: Nov 13, 1985
DECIDED: Mar 10, 1986

Mr. Andrew L. Frey - on behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae, in support of Petitioners
Constance L. Messore - on behalf of Petitioners
Robert B. Mann - on behalf of respondents
Robert E. Mann - on behalf of Respondents

Facts of the case

Brian Burbine was arrested for burglary in Cranston, Rhode Island. Police then received information connecting Burbine to a murder that happened in town a few months earlier. Burbine was read his Miranda rights and held for questioning. At first, Burbine refused to waive his rights, but later he signed three forms acknowledging that he understood his right to an attorney and waived that right. After questioning, he also signed three written statements admitting to the murder. That same night Burbine’s sister called the local Public Defender’s Office to get a lawyer for her brother. The sister did not know about the potential murder charge. When the Public Defender called the Cranston Police Station, police told her that Burbine was unavailable and would not be questioned until the next day. Police never told Burbine that an attorney attempted to contact him.

At trial, the judged denied a motion to suppress the statements made at the police station, holding that Burbine knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his right to counsel and privilege against self-incrimination. The U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island denied Burbine’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit reversed, holding that the police officer’s deliberate or reckless failure to inform Burbine that his counsel attempted to contact him invalidated his waiver of rights.



Does the self-incrimination clause of the Fifth Amendment require the suppression of three confessions and three valid waivers of rights, when an attorney unrequested by the defendant was given misleading information by a police officer about interrogations and the defendant was not informed of the attorney's call?

Media for Moran v. Burbine

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 13, 1985 in Moran v. Burbine

Warren E. Burger:

Mrs. Messore, I think you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Constance L. Messore:

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

This case is here on Petitioner's petition for certiorari to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Petitioner in this case contends that the First Circuit erred when it reversed the judgment of the federal district court and issued the Respondent's petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

In doing so, the First Circuit held that the Respondent's three written waivers of his Miranda rights and his three signed confessions should be suppressed because, although, he had beer given the complete Miranda warnings prior to each confession and he had agreed to waive his rights, his waivers were not knowingly made whom he had not requested, had because an attorney, called the police station where he happened to be in custody, had been given misleading information by whomever answered the telephone and was told that there would be no further interrogation of the Respondent that night, and the Respondent was not informed of this telephone call.

I feel in this particular case that it's important to briefly summarize the facts, and then I would like to explain why the First Circuit has misconceived the role of the attorney under the Miranda case in our opinion.

The Respondent, Brian Burbine, was arrested with two other men on a breaking and entering charge by the Cranston police.

He was taken to the police station and he was... the other two men were interrogated by the Cranston police.

As a result of this interrogation, there was suspect cast on Brian Burbine that he might be a suspect in a murder that had taken place in a neighboring town... city of Providence three months prior to his present arrest.

At this time the Cranston police called the Providence police, who came to the Cranston police station.

They gave Burbine his Miranda rights, and first he said that he had had nothing to do with Mary Jo's murder.

And so they put him back into the smaller room where he had been kept.

But about ten minutes later, they heard a banging and a kicking on his door, and he was brought out into the main room and he told them that he was sorry for what he'd done, he was disgusted, and that he wanted to confess.

At this time the Providence police again gave him his Miranda warnings orally, he read them, he signed a waiver, and then eventually signed a written confession implicating him in the murder of Mary Jo Hickey.

He was placed back in the room and shortly thereafter he stain initiated a conversation with the police, saying that he had left something out, there was more that he wished to say.

He was brought out, again given his Miranda rights orally, signed a written waiver, and gave an additional confession.

It just so happened that this same evening somehow his sister had discovered that he had been arrested on this breaking and entering, and she called the public defender's office about 8:00 o'clock in the evening to get an attorney for him.

It appears that Brian Burbine himself had an appointment with a public defender named Casparian that afternoon at 4: O0 o'clock, but he'd been unable to keep the appointment because of his arrest.

The person who answered the phone at the public defender's office said that Casparian was not available, but she got another attorney, attorney Munson, who at 8:15 called the police station and asked if Brian and Sparks, the other man with him, were being held.

She said she asked for the detective division and somebody, a male voice, answered "detectives", said that, yes, he was being held.

She said, although Casparian was the attorney who represented Burbine, he was not available, but if he was to be placed in a lineup or further interrogated that evening she would be available.

The answer that she got, she testified, was that he was not going to be further interrogated that evening; in fact,

"we're through with him for the night. "

At this point she did not pursue the conversation, she did not leave any instructions as to Burbine, nor did she ask that any message be given to him.

And in fact, Burbine was never told about this telephone call.

The next morning, Burbine was taken to the Cranston police district court, he was arraigned and he was handed over to the Providence police, who took him to their station, gave him again his Miranda warnings.

He again signed a waiver, gave a confession.

And at this point the Providence police said: We're going to get an attorney for you because you're about to be placed in a lineup.

He still said he did not want an attorney.

But at this time, when he was told that he must have one, he mentioned Casparian's name and the public defender's office was contacted.