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Law School Case Brief

Michigan v. Mosley - 423 U.S. 96, 96 S. Ct. 321 (1975)


The admissibility of statements obtained after the person in custody has decided to remain silent depends under Miranda on whether his "right to cut of questioning" was "scrupulously honored." 


Defendant Richard Bert Mosley, who had been arrested in connection with certain robberies, exercised his right to remain silent after a police officer, seeking to interrogate him about the robberies, advised Mosley of his rights under Miranda v Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). The police officer immediately ceased the interrogation when Mosley declined to discuss the robberies, and Mosley was then taken to a cell. More than two hours later, another police officer took Mosley to another place in the building and, after properly advising him of his Miranda rights, questioned him concerning an unrelated holdup murder. The officer obtained an incriminating statement from Mosley, who neither asked to consult with a lawyer nor indicated that he did not want to discuss the homicide. Prior to his trial for murder in Michigan state court, Mosley filed a motion to suppress his incriminating statement, asserting, inter alia, that under the Miranda decision, it was impermissible for the second officer to question him about the murder after he had refused to answer the first officer's questions about the robberies. The trial court denied the motion, and Mosley was subsequently convicted. The Court of Appeals of Michigan reversed, holding that the second police officer's interrogation of Mosley was a per se violation of the Miranda doctrine. Further appeal was denied by the Supreme Court of Michigan. The State was granted a writ of certiorari. 


Did the court of appeals err in reversing Mosley's conviction and determining that the trial court should have suppressed his confession?




The Supreme Court of the United States vacated the state appellate court's judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Court ruled that the right to remain silent encompassed within the Miranda rights was not a right to permanently remain silent, but was a right that had to be scrupulously honored by the police. The Court concluded that when the questioning was for different crimes, by a different police officer, in a different location at the station, after an extended period without questioning, the request to remain silent had been scrupulously honored.

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