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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Monday, February 21, 2005

Interesting New Cases

Elstad Rule Applies to Sixth Amendment

The Eighth Circuit held last week in U.S. v. Fellers, 01-2045, that a violation of the Sixth Amendment in an initial interrogation does not preclude the admissibility of a second confession taken during a subsequent interrogation after Miranda warnings were provided and waived.  The Court stated:  "The similarities between the Sixth Amendment context at issue in Fellers's case and the Fifth Amendment context at issue in Elstad support our conclusion that the Elstad rule applies when a suspect makes incriminating statements after a knowing and voluntary waiver of his right to counsel, notwithstanding earlier police questioning in violation of the Sixth Amendment. Although the Supreme Court has never explicitly stated that the Elstad rationale is applicable to Sixth Amendment violations, it has emphasized the similarity between pre-indictment suspects subjected to custodial interrogation and post-indictment defendants subjected to questioning."

Death Row Inmate Entitled to Hearing on Mental Retardation

The Fourth Circuit held last week in Walker v. True, 04-16, that the district court erred when it dismissed plaintiff-death row inmate's successive federal habeas petition before holding an evidentiary hearing on whether he is mentally retarded under Virginia law.  [Mark Godsey]

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Comments

If Justices Scalia and Thomas really want to show that Patane and Chavez limited the Dickerson decision and left Miranda's right to counsel prophylactic rather than constitutional until the violation is admitted into trial, the Fellers case on the docket this week for conference would be the way to do it. They could easily distinguish between Fellers and Elstad as cases where a constitutional violation did and did not occur based on the prophylactic Fifth Amendment distinction of Patane, Chavez, and Elstad. Of course, it would require them to let a criminal go and extend the rights of the criminal in the 6th Amendment context.

Posted by: Bishop Grewell | Oct 4, 2005 1:15:36 PM

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