Patterson v. Illinois
Annotate this Case
487 U.S. 285 (1988)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Patterson v. Illinois, 487 U.S. 285 (1988)
Patterson v. Illinois
Argued March 22, 1988
Decided June 24, 1988
487 U.S. 285
After being informed by police that he had been indicted for murder, petitioner, who was in police custody, twice indicated his willingness to discuss the crime during interviews initiated by the authorities. On both occasions, petitioner was read a form waiving his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S. 436, initialed each of the five specific warnings on the form, and signed the form. He then gave inculpatory statements to the authorities. The Illinois trial court denied his motions to suppress his statements on constitutional grounds, and the statements were used against him at trial. The State Supreme Court affirmed his conviction, rejecting his contention that the warnings he received, while adequate to protect his Fifth Amendment rights as guaranteed by Miranda, did not adequately inform him of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel.
Held: The postindictment questioning that produced petitioner's incriminating statements did not violate his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Pp. 487 U. S. 290-300.
(a) Petitioner cannot avail himself of the argument that, because his Sixth Amendment right to counsel arose with his indictment, the police were thereafter barred from initiating questioning, since he at no time sought to have counsel present. The essence of Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U. S. 477, and its progeny, on which petitioner relies, is the preservation of the integrity of an accused's choice to communicate with police only through counsel. Had petitioner indicated he wanted counsel's assistance, the questioning would have stopped, and further questioning would have been forbidden unless he himself initiated the meeting. Michigan v. Jackson, 475 U. S. 625. However, once an accused "knowingly and intelligently" elects to proceed without counsel, the uncounseled statements he then makes need not be excluded at trial. Pp. 487 U. S. 290-291.
(b) Petitioner's contention that his Sixth Amendment rights were violated because he did not "knowingly and intelligently" waive his right to have counsel present during his postindictment questioning is without merit. The constitutional minimum for determining whether a waiver was "knowing and intelligent" is that the accused be made sufficiently aware of his right to have counsel present and of the possible consequences of a decision to forgo the aid of counsel. Here, by admonishing petitioner with the Miranda warnings, respondent met this burden, and petitioner's waiver was valid. First, by telling him that he had the
rights to consult an attorney, to have a lawyer present while he was questioned, and even to have a lawyer appointed if he could not afford one, the authorities conveyed to him the sum and substance of his Sixth Amendment rights. Second, by informing him that any statement he made could be used against him, the authorities made him aware of the ultimate adverse consequence of his decision to waive his Sixth Amendment rights, and of what a lawyer could "do for him" during postindictment questioning: namely, advise him to refrain from making any such statements. Petitioner's inability here to articulate with precision what additional information should have been provided before he would have been competent to waive his right to counsel supports the conclusion that the information that was provided satisfies the constitutional minimum. Pp. 487 U. S. 292-297.
(c) This Court has never adopted petitioner's suggestion that the Sixth Amendment right to counsel is "superior" to or "more difficult" to waive than its Fifth Amendment counterpart. Rather, in Sixth Amendment cases, the court has defined the scope of the right to counsel by a pragmatic assessment of the usefulness of counsel to the accused at the particular stage of the proceedings in question, and the dangers to the accused of proceeding without counsel at that stage. An accused's waiver is "knowing and intelligent" if he is made aware of these basic facts. Miranda warnings are sufficient for this purpose in the postindictment questioning context, because, at that stage, the role of counsel is relatively simple and limited, and the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation are less substantial and more obvious to an accused than they are at trial. Pp. 487 U. S. 297-300.
116 Ill.2d 290, 507 N.E.2d 843, affirmed.
WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and O'CONNOR, SCALIA, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 487 U. S. 300. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 487 U. S. 301.