Rhode Island v. Innis

PETITIONER: Rhode Island
LOCATION: Police Car

DOCKET NO.: 78-1076
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: Rhode Island Supreme Court

CITATION: 446 US 291 (1980)
ARGUED: Oct 30, 1979
DECIDED: May 12, 1980

Dennis J. Roberts, II - Argued the cause for the petitioner
John A. MacFadyen, III - Argued the cause for the respondent

Facts of the case

After a picture identification by the victim of a robbery, Thomas J. Innis was arrested by police in Providence, Rhode Island. Innis was unarmed when arrested. Innis was advised of his Miranda rights and subsequently requested to speak with a lawyer. While escorting Innis to the station in a police car, three officers began discussing the shotgun involved in the robbery. One of the officers commented that there was a school for handicapped children in the area and that if one of the students found the weapon he might injure himself. Innis then interrupted and told the officers to turn the car around so he could show them where the gun was located.


Did the police "interrogation" en route to the station violate Innis's Miranda rights?

Media for Rhode Island v. Innis

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 30, 1979 in Rhode Island v. Innis

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in Rhode Island against Innis.

Mr. Attorney General.

Dennis J. Roberts, II:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court.

This matter is before the Court this morning on a petition for certiorari directed to the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

The respondent in this case, Thomas Innis, was found guilty of kidnapping, robbery and murder by a Superior Court, sitting with a jury, on November 12th, 1975.

During that trial, the Superior Court had denied a motion to suppress a shotgun that had been seized under the circumstances that give rise to this petition for certiorari.

The case began on midnight, or shortly after midnight, of January 16th, 1975.

A cab driver named Aubin complained to the Providence Police Department that he'd been assaulted by a man carrying a sawed off shotgun.

While he was in the police department giving a statement, he observed a photograph of the respondent, Thomas Innis, on a bulletin board in the police department, and spontaneously identified his assailant as Thomas Innis.

The police put out a bulletin for a search in the area of the city of Providence where the cab driver had dropped Innis off, the Mt. Pleasant area.

At about 4:30 in the morning, a patrol officer on Chalkstone Avenue in the city of Providence saw Innis on a sidewalk and apprehended him, handcuffed him, and gave him his Miranda warning.

Potter Stewart:

Previously, another cab driver had been shot and killed?

Dennis J. Roberts, II:

A cab driver had been shot and killed, Your Honor.

The case which is before the Court this morning involves the shooting and killing of that cab driver, who at that time had not yet--the body had not yet been discovered.

The first patrol officer gave Innis his Miranda warnings for the first time.

Within a few minutes after that, a Sergeant arrived and gave Miranda--gave Miranda warnings for the second time to Innis.

Within two or three minutes after that, the commanding--the night commander of the Providence Police Department at that time, Captain Leyden, arrived on the scene and gave Innis his Miranda warnings for the third time.

At that time, Innis asserted his right to have counsel, at which point Captain Leyden directed that all interrogation cease, that he be placed in a caged police car with three police officers, and taken to the central police station.

This was done.

He was also specifically advised, I should point out, that the--the suspect not be interrogated on the way to the police station, and that there be no conversation, no questioning, directed to him.

Potter Stewart:

You said he was placed in a caged police car with three police officers?

Dennis J. Roberts, II:

There were two police officers in the front seat, Your Honor--

Potter Stewart:

And one in the caged --

Dennis J. Roberts, II:

-- and one in the cage with Thomas Innis.

Along the way -- they had gone approximately two minutes, and traveled approximately one-half mile to a mile--at that point the police officer on the passenger side of the front seat said to the police officer in the driver's seat, it would be a shame--and I'm giving the substance of what he said now; I'm not attempting to quote--it would be a shame if one of the retarded children who goes to the school for the handicapped in this neighborhood should find that gun and hurt himself.

At that point, Thomas Innis, to whom this had not been directed as an interrogatory, volunteered - Okay, take me back to the scene; I'm going to show you where the gun is.

Thomas Innis was taken back to the scene.

Captain Leyden who was still there, removed him from the back seat of the caged vehicle, and gave him for the fourth time his Miranda rights.

At that point, Thomas Innis said no, I would like to show you where the gun is.

I'm concerned that some of the handicapped children at the school for the retarded in this neighborhood might get hurt.