Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Sixth Amendment Under Attack

The Sixth Amendment:

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence."

The Obama administration is asking the Supreme Court to overrule the 1986 Michigan v. Jackson decision in which the Supreme Court said that police may not initiate questioning of a defendant who has a lawyer or has asked for one unless the attorney is present. I can't believe the left isn't coming unglued on this one, or the ACLU for that matter. I'm betting that they will.

The left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center has weighed in: Stephen Bright, a lawyer who works with poor defendants at the Southern Centre for Human Rights in Atlanta, described the administration's position as "disappointing - no question".

Ed Morrissey questions the logic behind finding this out from a British newspaper, which is a valid point. Not a word in the New York Times. He also writes:

"Rolling back Michigan v Jackson would be a mistake. People who ask for an attorney should get one without further questioning. Americans have the right to counsel at all stages of the process, not just in court, as Obama argues. The adversarial process begins with arrest and interrogation, not when people first face a judge. While Miranda has been turned into a fetish, Michigan actually does the work Miranda promises — to get people counsel when they most need it. That does serve a real purpose, despite what Obama argues."

There seems to be the possibility for a domino effect here; once you lose one of your constitutional rights they all are in jeopardy. The Second Amendment is constantly under attack. The Fairness Doctrine attacks the First Amendment. And now the Sixth Amendment is under fire. Where will it end?

How many criminal convictions would later be questioned because the accused didn't get a lawyer under interrogation? What about the poor, the mentally deficient, the unsophisticated, the handicapped? No lawyer?

If Michigan v. Jackson is overruled, what of Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)? That ruling said counsel must be provided in criminal cases for defendants unable to afford their own attorneys or lawyers.

HuffPo says a decision to hear the case could come as early as Friday. It seems that this administration is treating the terrorists better than American citizens.

Update: Related Link: SCOTUS Blog


yukio ngaby said...

Looks look Obama believes he has to stifle all those DHS defined right-wing extremists out there.

It's an epidemic!

G.R. said...

This has got to be a joke. Right?

Here we have an Administration that is bent out of shape over Gitmo, yet willing to basically eliminate one of the amendments of the Bill of Rights? That's why it has to be a joke.

But then again the Constitution means nothing Obama. So, I guess it's not a joke.

Do people realize that when a person tells the police he wants an attorney, there is no attorney sitting outside the interrogation room waiting to be called.

A person who can afford an attorney can make a call to his attorney, providing Obama will still allow a person to call his/her attorney.

A person who can't afford an attorney is appointed an attorney by the court.

I can picture it now, a person who can't make contact with an attorney because he can't call on or afford one, has to endure the "torture" and the harsh interrogation practices of Obama's Civilian Defense Force (sounds like a version of brownshirts), all the while screaming for an attorney, yet one won't be coming to his/her rescue.

Did I wake up in 1933 Germany?

Anonymoose! said...

"the Supreme Court said that police may not initiate questioning of a defendant who has a lawyer or has asked for one unless the attorney is present."

Unless of course you are charged with a crime on a battlefield - then we can hold you indefinitely without a trial. Sweet!

As to one of the other comments....1933 mean where people had to be careful about what they said because the government was watching? Sounds a lot like a certain Carnivore program to me.

Those pokes aside, I will actually have to read *why* Obama supposedly wants to do this. That would be rather relevant to the conversation. They would have to have a rather compelling argument though, as this seems pretty odd.

yukio ngaby said...

anonymoose: "Unless of course you are charged with a crime on a battlefield - then we can hold you indefinitely without a trial. Sweet!"

Since when are foreign terrorists supposed to be extended Geneva Convention rights, let alone the rights of American citizens?