BREWER v. WILLIAMS

430 U.S. 387

Merits: Mr. Williams, the defendant, was an escapee from a psychological hospital and lived in YMCA. On 24th December the year 1964, Pamela Powers a girl aged ten years visited YMCA in Des Moines in the company of her family to watch her brother participate in a wrestling tournament. During the match, the girl visited the washrooms but never showed back. Later on, the defendant was spotted in possession of clothing and a bundle wrapped using a blanket. A boy aged fourteen years who had aided him opens the street door later claimed to have seen human legs but defendant drove off before anyone else saw them. One of his attorneys afterward called the police officers and informed them of Mr. Williams’ intention to turn him into police custody. However, the lawyers working for the defendant also indicated their client was not to get interrogated in their absence. On surrender to the police, Williams was given the Miranda Warnings and made to wait for an officer from Des Moines to pick him from police custody in Davenport. The two legal representatives indicated to their client that he should not get interrogated in the way. A fact the defendant understood well. William made an assurance that he would only speak while at the police station. On the way, the officer wished to have the girl given a decent Christian burial should they find the body. However, he did not force the defendant to answer and only required him to think of it. Despite that, the accused moved to give directions to the location of the body. The District Court judge in Davenport ruled the defendant willingly waived the right to counsel as he had been given Miranda Warnings many times.

Appeals

Declaration by Court of Appeals: The U.S. Supreme Court issued a certiorari

Issue: “…whether the defendant’s right to counsel under Sixth Amendment had been violated, as well as determination if the ‘burial conversation’ was equivalent to an interrogation. Again, the appeal needed to establish the question relating to waiving the right to counsel by the defendant as had been indicated by the District Court.”

Argument:

Reasoning;

  1. The court held that the ‘burial conversation’ was sought of an interrogation as its intention was to hunt for answers from the defendant.
  2. The fact that adversarial proceedings had kicked off against the defendant, he reserved the right to have a counsel present during the interrogation. That requirement derives its support from the Sixth Amendment.
  3. Despite the contradiction the defendant depicted to overlooking his attorney’s advice, that would not tantamount to renouncement of the right to have a legal representative.

Applications;

The Miranda Warnings contend that a person gets the right to remain silent up to such time as their Lawyer is in attendance. An officer intending to conduct an interrogation ought to notify the suspect or witness of the warnings before commencing. Further, the Sixth Amendment requires that accused persons get the right to a counsel before being taken through a questioning process by the law enforcers. The court held that the detectives were aware that by asking the defendant to show the location of the corpse for the purpose of funeral they would actually use the information as evidence recorded by the accused. Furthermore, the court asserted of the respect for rights guaranteed to a criminal as protected by the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution ought to always get reserved when attempting to take into criminals to custody. Therefore, it was argued the evidence get suppressed since the defendant’s rights were violated. However, Judge Warren Burger dissented, making an argument that the accused got reminded of his rights time and again. Hence, his acceptance to revealing the location of the body amounted to waiving his rights.

Conclusion;

The decision held the law enforcement officers had violated the rights of the defendant since he had already asserted the right a counsel who had advised him to remain silent. There were no enough facts to show the willingness to waive that right by the defendant.

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