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Berghuis v. Thompkins

United States Supreme Court
560 U.S. 370 (2010)



Thompkins (defendant) was interrogated about his involvement in a murder. Before questioning Thompkins, the police had him read aloud a portion of a written form with the Miranda warnings printed on it. The rest of the form was read aloud to Thompkins and police asked that he sign the form to show he understood his rights. Thompkins refused. Thompkins was then interrogated for about three hours. He never stated that he wanted an attorney or to remain silent. Thompkins gave only a few one word responses. When asked if he prayed that God forgive him for shooting the victim, Thompkins said yes. Thompkins was charged with murder. The court denied Thompkins’ motion to suppress the statements he made during interrogation and he was convicted. His conviction was affirmed on appeal. The state supreme court declined review of his case. Thompkins petitioned a federal court for a writ of habeas corpus. The court denied his petition, holding that Thompkins did not invoke his right to silence and that his confession was not coerced. The district court also held that the appellate court’s decision that Thompkins had waived his right to silence was reasonable. The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed and held that the state appellate court’s decision that Thompkins had waived his right to silence was unreasonable. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

Dissent (Sotomayor, J.)

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