Last modified on 13 July 2016, at 06:06

Escobedo v. State of Illinois

In Escobedo v. State of Illinois, 378 U.S. 478 (1964), the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a conviction because the police did not grant the request by the accused for an attorney during an interrogation. This laid the foundation for Miranda v. Arizona two years later.

Justice Arthur Goldberg wrote the decision for the 6-3 Court. He concluded:

We hold, therefore, that where, as here, the investigation is no longer a general inquiry into an unsolved crime but has begun to focus on a particular suspect, the suspect has been taken into police custody, the police carry out a process of interrogations that lends itself to eliciting incriminating statements, the suspect has requested and been denied an opportunity to consult with his lawyer, and the police have not effectively warned him of his absolute constitutional right to remain silent, the accused has been denied "the Assistance of Counsel" in violation of the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution as "made obligatory upon the States by the Fourteenth Amendment," Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S., at 342, and that no statement elicited by the police during the interrogation may be used against him at a criminal trial.

Justice Potter Stewart wrote in dissent:

Supported by no stronger authority than its own rhetoric, the Court today converts a routine police investigation of an unsolved murder into a distorted analogue of a judicial trial. It imports into this investigation constitutional concepts historically applicable only after the onset of formal prosecutorial proceedings. By doing so, I think the Court perverts those precious constitutional guarantees, and frustrates the vital interests of society in preserving the legitimate and proper function of honest and purposeful police investigation.

Justices John Harlan II and Byron White also dissented.