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Name: Maryland v. Shatzer
Case #: 08-680
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 02/24/2010
Subsequent History: 130 S.Ct. 1213; 175 L.Ed.2d 1045

Where a suspect has asserted his right to counsel and his right to remain silent and questioning ceases but he is then recontacted after a period of 14 days, during which he was no longer in Miranda custody, and now waives Miranda, there is no presumption that a statement obtained following the waiver is involuntary. In 2003, police sought to question Shatzer about an allegation of sexual abuse of his son, but halted questioning when Shatzer, after being advised of his Miranda rights, requested an attorney. At the time, Shatzer was serving a prison sentence for a conviction from an unrelated abuse incident. In 2006, the police, having received additional information regarding the matter, reopened the investigation and recontacted Shatzer who was still confined in prison serving the earlier term. He was again advised of his Miranda rights but this time waived them and provided an inculpating statement leading to his subsequent conviction at a court trial. The Maryland Appeals Court reversed the conviction, holding that the passage of time, alone, did not end the protections of Edwards v. Arizona (1981) 451 U.S. 477. [Edwards held that when an accused has invoked his right to have counsel present during custodial interrogation, a valid waiver of that right cannot be established by only showing that he responded to further police-initiated custodial interrogation when advised of his rights and waiving them; under Edwards, there is to be no further interrogation by the authorities until counsel has been made available.] The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari and reversed the appellate court decision. Noting that the Edwards rule is a judicially-created protection, the Court elected to clarify it. With the clarification, when 14 days has passed from the initial contact, during which time the suspect is no longer in Miranda custody but has returned to his normal life, the break in custody dissipates the coercive pressures identified in the Edwards decision such that the suspect’s statement following his Miranda waiver is not viewed as being involuntary. Here, there had been a more than two-year break between the two police contacts. Even though Shatzer had been returned to a prison setting, the Court found that he was not in Miranda custody, but had instead been returned to his “normal” life without the inherent pressures of the initial interrogation.