History Day: Miranda and his ironic death

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By: Gross

This is our very first post, and I thought a good way to start would be with something fun. So today, we will discuss the ironic death of the man who gave birth to the well known words Police are required to read you prior to custodial interrogation: Ernesto Miranda.

As you may or may not be aware, Ernesto Miranda was arrested March 13, 1963 by the Phoenix Police Department  for the rape and murder of a 17 year-old girl on March 3, 1963. After a few hours of interrogation, Miranda signed a confession to the crime. Miranda was given a Court appointed attorney named Alvin Moore who cleverly objected that Miranda’s confession was not truly voluntary because the police never advised him about his right to remain silent, or his right to have an attorney present. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), neither the Trial Court nor the Arizona Court of Appeals agreed with Moore’s argument. In deciding the case, the Arizona Supreme Court made heavy notice of the fact that Miranda never actually requested an attorney (This looks a little like Montejo v. Louisiana 556 U.S. 778 (2009) [Petitioner never actively requested an attorney or made an affirmation once he was assigned one]). The Supreme Court of the United States disagreed, and remanded back to trial Court where Prosecution would be unable to utilize Miranda’s confession. The Prosecution utilized witness testimony, one of the witnesses was Miranda’s ex-wife (There is some speculation that had Miranda not threatened to have the authorities take her children from her, she would never have testified: her testimony was truly the nail in the coffin for Miranda). After a full trial, Miranda was found guilty and sentenced to 20-30 years. Miranda was paroled in 1972.

Now we get to the fun stuff. A few years after his parole, Ernesto Miranda was involved in a card game. Someone accused Ernesto Miranda of cheating at cards and a savage brawl ensued, culminating in the stabbing of Mr. Miranda. The police were called, and took Miranda’s assailant into custody. As Ernesto Miranda lay dying in a pool of his own blood, the father of the Miranda warnings observed such irony that God himself must have orchestrated it. While Miranda’s attacker was in custody, the arresting officer pulled out a small card and began reading, “You have the right to remain silent…”. Those are likely the last words Ernesto Miranda ever heard.

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