April 7, 2009

Supreme Court rules that delay in bringing a suspect before magistrate can render voluntary confession inadmissable

In a 5-4 decision involving a bank robbery prosecution, the Supreme Court ruled, in Corley v. United States, 07-10441, that if federal agents wait too long to take a suspect before a magistrate judge to be formally advised of the charges against him, any confession made by the suspect, even if voluntarily made, is inadmissable. In general, production before a magistrate must come within six hours after arrest in order for the confession to be admissable.

In arriving at this result, Justice Souter opined: "In a world without McNabb-Mallory, federal agents would be free to question suspects for extended periods before bringing them out in the open, and we have always known what custodial secrecy leads to ... No one with any smattering of the history of 20th Century dictatorships needs a lecture on the subject…and there is mounting empirical evidence that these pressures can induce a frighteningly high percentage of people to confess to crimes they never committed."

Congratulations to David McColgin and Brett Sweitzer of the Philadelphia Community Defender's Office on this victory!

No comments:

Post a Comment