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Boundaries of Gideon and Miranda

Today the US Supreme Court hears oral arguments regarding the boundaries of two of its most famous decisions, Gideon v. Wainwright and Miranda v. Arizona (or, for Miranda, infamous).

In Turner v. Rogers, No. 10-10, the Court will consider whether "an indigent
defendant has [a] constitutional right to appointed counsel at a civil contempt
proceeding that results in his incarceration."  Incarceration is where we draw the line for a right to appointed counsel in criminal cases.  (You have no right to appointed counsel to fight your traffic ticket.  Sorry.)  As a policy matter, it makes sense to apply criminal law protections in civil cases when those cases cross the line from compensation to punishment.  For example, I have long believed that the protection against punishment for an act when the law fails to give fair warning the act is illegal should apply to punitive damage actions.  However, the Sixth Amendment on which Gideon is based quite expressly applies to "criminal prosecutions."  Civil contempt is not a criminal prosecution.  UpdateThis AP report of the argument indicates that extension of Gideon is unlikely.

In J.D.B. v. North Carolina, 09-11121, the Court considers the impact of a juvenile's age in deciding whether he is "in custody" for the purpose of Miranda under the "totality of circumstances."  Lyle Denniston has this argument preview at SCOTUSblog.  A 13-year-old boy was called to the principal's office and questioned by a police investigator.  I am no fan of the Miranda rule and do not like to see any expansion, but it's pretty hard to swallow that a reasonable person in this kid's shoes would have felt free to leave under the totality of the circumstances.

Update 2:  Lyle has this recap of the argument in J.D.B.  The transcript is here.  Looks like 4-4 with Justice Kennedy in the middle.  "Deja vu all over again," as Yogi Berra said.

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