Wyrick v. Fields
Annotate this Case
459 U.S. 42 (1982)
U.S. Supreme Court
Wyrick v. Fields, 459 U.S. 42 (1982)
Wyrick v. Fields
Decided November 29, 1982
459 U.S. 42
Respondent, a soldier stationed in Missouri, after being arrested on a charge of rape and after consulting with private counsel and with an attorney provided him by the Army, requested a polygraph examination. Immediately prior to the examination, which was conducted by an agent of the Army's Criminal Investigation Division (CID), respondent signed a consent document that included information of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S. 436; the CID agent read to respondent a detailed statement that also explained his rights, including the right to stop answering questions at any time or to speak to a lawyer before answering further, even if he signed a waiver certificate; and respondent, in response to a question, stated that he did not want a lawyer present. At the conclusion of the polygraph examination, the CID agent told respondent that there had been some deceit, and asked him if he could explain why his answers were bothering him; respondent then admitted having intercourse with the victim, but said that it had been consensual; the agent asked whether respondent wished to discuss the matter further with another CID agent and with the local Police Chief, and respondent said that he did. The Police Chief read respondent his Miranda warnings once again before questioning him, and respondent repeated that his sexual contact with the victim had been consensual. Respondent was convicted after trial in a Missouri state court, which denied his motion to suppress the testimony of the two CID agents and the Police Chief as to his "confessions" to voluntary intercourse, holding that he had waived his rights. The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed, and the Federal District Court denied respondent's subsequent petition for habeas corpus relief. However, the Federal Court of Appeals reversed, holding that, although respondent had waived his Fifth Amendment right to have counsel present while the polygraph examination itself was being conducted, the State failed to prove that he knowingly and intelligently waived his right to the presence of counsel at the examining CID agent's "post-test interrogation." The court suggested that there would have been no violation if the agent merely had paused at the end of the polygraph examination to remind respondent of his rights.
Held: The Court of Appeals misconstrued Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U. S. 477, which establishes that, where an accused, after invoking his right to counsel, initiates subsequent dialogue with the authorities, the question whether there was a valid waiver of the right to counsel as to any interrogation that occurs during such dialogue is controlled by the "totality of the circumstances," including the fact that the accused initiated the dialogue. Here, respondent initiated not just a meeting with the authorities, but interrogation, by requesting the polygraph examination. Respondent validly waived his right to have counsel present at "post-test" questioning unless the circumstances changed so seriously that his answers no longer were voluntary, or unless he no longer was waiving his rights knowingly and voluntarily. To require new warnings merely because the examination had been discontinued and respondent was asked if he could explain the test's unfavorable results would be unreasonable. The questions put to respondent after the examination would not have caused him to forget the rights of which he had been advised, and which he had understood, moments before.
Certiorari granted; 682 F.2d 154, reversed and remanded.