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Berghuis V. Thompkins

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  • May 3, 2012
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Berghuis v. Thompkins

Procedural History
Van Chester Thompkins was charged with multiple charges. He moved to suppress his statements made during the interrogation. He was found guilty on all charges by a jury of his peers and sentenced to life in prison without parole. His appellate counsel filed a motion for a new trial which was rejected by the trial court. He appealed the ruling to the Michigan Court of Appeals and the trial courts original refusal to suppress his pre-trial statements made during interrogation claiming his Miranda rights were violated. His claims were rejected ruling that he failed to invoke his right to remain silent therefore he waived it. He then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan; they also rejected his claim and upheld the previous court rulings. However, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the previous rulings for Thompkins regarding the Miranda claim. The court believed that the state court did not reasonably apply clearly established federal laws, basing its decision on an unreasonable determination of the facts. Legal Issue

Are officers required to obtain an express Miranda waiver before questioning suspects? Or are implied waivers sufficient? Facts of Case
Thompkins was arrested for murder after he shot a man outside a mall in Michigan. Before being questioned in a police interview room, he was given a written copy of the Miranda warnings and an officer who determined that he could read English, gave him time to read them. Thompkins was also provided with a supplemental warning that stated he had the right to decide at any time before or during questioning to use his right to remain silent or his right to speak with an attorney during questioning. That being said, the officer did not ask him if he wanted to waive those rights. During the interview, Thompkins did not admit anything and gave limited...