United States v. Green

PETITIONER: United States
LOCATION: Center Moriches School District

DOCKET NO.: 91-1521
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1991-1993)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 507 US 545 (1993)
ARGUED: Nov 30, 1992
DECIDED: Apr 05, 1993

Joseph R. Conte - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Green

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 30, 1992 in United States v. Green

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument next in number 91-1521, United States against Lowell Green.

Mr. Roberts, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

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

This case is here from the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

That court held that in respondent's trial for first degree murder, the jury must never know that he voluntarily confessed to the crime after receiving Miranda warnings and expressly waiving his rights because 5 months before confessing, he invoked his right to counsel when he was arrested on an unrelated drug charge, a charge he resolved with a guilty plea 3 months before being questioned about the murder.

The decision of the court of appeals should be reversed.

The facts are not in dispute.

Respondent was arrested on a drug charge.

He was read his Miranda rights by the book.

He invoked his right to counsel.

The police immediately stopped the proceedings, and respondent was provided with an attorney.

2 months later, he pled guilty to a lesser drug charge as part of a plea bargain.

3 months after that, he was... while still in custody, he was arrested for murder, a charge unrelated to the drug offense.

He was again read his Miranda rights, and this time he chose to waive them, giving the police a videotaped statement in which he confessed to his role in the murder.

The lower courts reluctantly suppressed the confession, even though they found it voluntary and found respondent's waiver knowing and intelligent.

They thought this result compelled by this Court's decision in Edwards against Arizona and the rule that once a suspect invokes his right to counsel, the police may not reinitiate questioning, and if they do, the suspect's statements are presumed to be involuntary.


Byron R. White:

You'd be making the same argument I suppose if the officers went back to him a day after he had invoked his right to counsel as long as it was about a different crime?

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

--No, Your Honor.

That I think would be barred by Roberson.

The first argument--

Byron R. White:

Well, where is your line then?

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

--Well, the first line... our basic submission this morning is that the guilty plea is a dramatic change in circumstances that justifies lifting the presumption.

This Court has never had occasion to consider whether the Edwards presumption continues in the face of a guilty verdict, let alone a guilty plea.

In Edwards, in Roberson, and in Minnick, the subject was in the same position when he invoked his right to counsel as when the police reinitiated questioning, a pretrial suspect.

Here, however, in the meantime, the respondent has been found guilty on the matter that led to his arrest and on which he... which triggered his Miranda rights in the first place.

Byron R. White:

Would it make any difference if he had counsel?

I suppose he still had counsel.

He hadn't been sentenced yet.

John G. Roberts, Jr.:

He had counsel, of course, in entering the guilty plea and had consulted with his attorney.