- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 22, 2003

The Supreme Court agreed yesterday to decide how far the Constitution protects a suspect from his own words when police are prevented from reading the full Miranda rights.
The question arose from a 2001 Colorado gun-possession case against a convicted felon who told police he knew his rights and interrupted their warnings that he could remain silent and have a lawyer.
The Justice Department concedes that Samuel F. Patane was not "Mirandized," but asked the high court to allow the .40-caliber Glock pistol hidden in his bedroom to be placed in evidence even though Patane disclosed its location to detectives who had not fully read him his rights.
Solicitor General Theodore Olson asked the justices to resolve a circuit court split on the question by permitting "fruits of the poisoned tree" to be used as evidence even as the criminal's own words remain inadmissible.
"Suppression of probative physical evidence in such cases imposes serious costs on the administration of justice," Mr. Olson said in petitioning the court to hear his appeal during the term that begins in October.
He told the justices that such situations arise often and argued that Miranda restrictions should not apply when a suspect declines to listen or when warnings are not given "in a fast-moving investigation."
Patane's federal public defender, Jill Wichlens of Denver, declined comment yesterday, but D.C. lawyer Deanne Maynard offered a view for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
"The words out of his mouth led them to this evidence," Miss Maynard said, arguing that the government's concession Patane was not warned should settle the question.
The 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals suppressed the gun as evidence and said the Supreme Court was clear in its 1966 Miranda v. Arizona decision that said, "Unless and until such warnings and waiver are demonstrated by the prosecution at trial, no evidence obtained as a result of interrogation can be used against him."
Patane had the .40-caliber Glock in violation of two federal firearms laws one bars felons from having guns and the other forbids them to people under domestic restraining orders.
After Patane refused to hear his rights, officers asked him if he owned any guns. He said yes and told them where to find them.
His incriminating statement was made during an investigation after his girlfriend said she feared being on Patane's "list of people he wanted to kill," and his violation of a court restraining order issued after she said he "menaced" her.
The high court reaffirmed its Miranda decision in a 2000 decision on an Alexandria bank-robbery case, Dickerson v. U.S. It blocked prosecutors from using confessions taken without the now-familar warning, and barred Congress from nullifying the "constitutional rule."
In other actions yesterday the court:
Refused to hear San Diego's plea that it was "scrupulously neutral toward religion" when it sold a 43-foot cross at its Mount Soledad war memorial to an association that would preserve it. An atheist activist won a lawsuit contending that groups wanting to dismantle the cross were not allowed to bid.
Agreed to reconsider police rules for searching stopped cars in an appeal by Arizona authorities whose cocaine case against Rodney Gant was thrown out because officers searched his car after he parked in his own driveway.
Declined to hear a challenge to National Park Service policies that allow helicopter tours over the Grand Canyon only by companies that pay the Hualapai tribe for rights that earn the tribe about $2 million a year.
Agreed to decide if Delma Banks' 1982 murder conviction and death sentence was unconstitutional. Banks, senior inmate on Texas' death row, said his lawyer was inept and that authorities used witnesses who later recanted and kept blacks off the jury. Banks, who is black, was convicted of killing his white 16-year-old former co-worker.

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