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TAGUE v. LOUISIANA, 444 U.S. 469 (1980)

U.S. Supreme Court

TAGUE v. LOUISIANA, 444 U.S. 469 (1980)

444 U.S. 469

TAGUE v. LOUISIANA.
ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF LOUISIANA.

No. 79-5386.

Decided January 21, 1980.

Held:

Petitioner's inculpatory statement to the arresting officer was erroneously admitted in evidence at his state-court trial at which he was convicted, where no evidence was introduced to prove that petitioner knowingly and intelligently waived his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 , before making the statement.

Certiorari granted; 372 So.2d 555, reversed and remanded.

PER CURIAM.

Petitioner was charged with armed robbery in violation of La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 14:64 (West 1974). He was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 65 years at hard labor without benefit of parole. His conviction was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Louisiana in a brief per curiam opinion. 372 So.2d 555, 556 (1979). On rehearing, a divided court reaffirmed petitioner's conviction. Ibid. It rejected his contention that an inculpatory statement made to the arresting officer and introduced at trial had been obtained in violation of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).

At the suppression hearing in the trial court, the arresting officer testified that he read petitioner his Miranda rights from a card, that he could not presently remember what those rights were, that he could not recall whether he asked petitioner whether he understood the rights as read to him, and that he "couldn't say yes or no" whether he rendered any tests to determine whether petitioner was literate or otherwise capable of understanding his rights. 372 So.2d, at 557.

A majority of the Supreme Court of Louisiana held that an arresting officer is not

Justice Dennis in dissent wrote that

We agree. The majority's error is readily apparent. Miranda v. Arizona clearly stated the principles that govern once the required warnings have been given.

Just last Term, in holding that a waiver of Miranda rights need not be explicit but may be inferred from the actions and words of a person interrogated, we firmly reiterated that

In this case no evidence at all was introduced to prove that petitioner knowingly and intelligently waived his rights before making the inculpatory statement. The statement was therefore inadmissible.

Accordingly, the motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and the petition for a writ of certiorari are granted, the judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded to the Supreme Court of Louisiana for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

THE CHIEF JUSTICE would set the case for oral argument.

MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST dissents.

He thinks that, under the circumstances described in the opinion of the Supreme Court of Louisiana, the judgment of that court was fully consistent with North Carolina v. Butler, 441 U.S. 369 (1979), and not inconsistent with any other decision of this Court. [444 U.S. 469, 472]  

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