Chipping Away at the Right to Counsel

June 23, 2014

Before courts recognized that abusive interrogation techniques could easily lead to a false confession and a miscarriage of justice, police routinely administered the “third degree” on suspects they thought were guilty until a confession was obtained.

One form of abuse was to interrogate a suspect incommunicado, which included withholding information that the suspect’s attorney was trying to contact the suspect and was currently available to provide assistance.

In People v. Bender, the Michigan Supreme Court held that withholding such information violates the Michigan Constitution. In 2013 the Michigan Supreme Court announced that it would consider overruling Bender.

The ACLU of Michigan joined the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan (CDAM) in filing an amicus brief that urges the court not to strip suspects of this important constitutional protection.

Unfortunately, in June 2014 the Michigan Supreme Court overruled Bender, diminishing the constitutional protections provided to suspects accused of crimes.

(People v. Tanner; ACLU Attorney Dan Korobkin and Law Student Intern Eliza Perez Facio; Eve Brensike Primus for CDAM.)

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