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Massiah v. United States


Massiah v. United States

Massiah v. United States
Argued March 3, 1964
Decided May 18, 1964
Full case name Winston Massiah v. United States
Citations 377 U.S. 201 (more)
84 S. Ct. 1199; 12 L. Ed. 2d 246; 1964 U.S. LEXIS 1277
Prior history 307 F.2d 62 (2d cir.) reversed
Once criminal proceedings have begun, the government cannot bypass the defendant's lawyer and try to elicit statements from the defendant.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Stewart, joined by Goldberg, Brennan, Douglas, Black, Warren
Dissent White, joined by Clark, Harlan
Laws applied
U.S. Const. amend. VI

Massiah v. United States, 377 U.S. 201 (1964),[1] was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the government from eliciting statements from the defendant about themselves after the point that the Sixth Amendment right to counsel attaches.

In Massiah, the defendant had been indicted on a federal narcotics charge. He retained a lawyer, pled not guilty, and was released on bail. A co-defendant, after deciding to cooperate with the government, invited Massiah to sit in his car and discuss the crime he was indicted on, during which the government listened in via a radio transmitter. During the conversation, Massiah made several incriminating statements, and those statements were introduced at trial to be used against him.

Massiah appealed his conviction, which was affirmed in part by the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 307 F.2d 62. The Supreme Court granted certiorari and reversed, holding that the statements made by the defendant outside the presence of his attorney must be suppressed.

The Massiah rule applies to the use of testimonial evidence in criminal proceedings deliberately elicited by the police from a defendant after formal charges have been filed. The events that trigger the Sixth Amendment safeguards under Massiah are (1) the commencement of adversarial criminal proceedings and (2) deliberate elicitation of information from the defendant by governmental agents.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees a defendant a right to counsel in all criminal prosecutions. The purposes of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel are to protect a defendant’s right to a fair trial and to assure that our adversarial system of justice functions properly by providing competent counsel as an advocate for the defendant in his contest against the “prosecutorial forces” of the state.

The Sixth Amendment right “attaches” once the government has committed itself to the prosecution of the case by the initiation of adversarial judicial proceedings "by way of formal charge, preliminary hearing, indictment, information or arraignment,".[2] Determining whether a particular event or proceeding constitutes the commencement of adversarial criminal proceedings requires both an examination of the rules of criminal procedure for the jurisdiction in which the crime is charged and the Supreme Courts cases dealing with the issue of when formal prosecution begins.[3] Once adversarial criminal proceedings commence the right to counsel applies to all critical stages of the prosecution and investigation. A critical stage is "any stage of the prosecution, formal or informal, in court or out, where counsel's absence might derogate from the accused's right to a fair trial." [4]

Government attempts to obtain incriminating statement related to the offense charged from the defendant by overt interrogation or surreptitious means is a critical stage and any information thus obtained is subject to suppression unless the government can show that an attorney was present or the defendant knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently waived his right to counsel.[5]

Deliberate elicitation is defined as the intentional creation of circumstances by government agents that are likely to produce incriminating information from the defendant.[6] Clearly express questioning (interrogation) would qualify but the concept also extends to surreptitious attempts to acquire information from the defendant through the use of undercover agents or paid informants.[7]

The definition of "deliberate elicitation" is not the same as the definition of "interrogation" under the Miranda rule. Miranda interrogation includes express questioning and any actions or statements that an officer would reasonably foresee as likely to cause an incriminating response. Massiah applies to express questioning and any attempt to deliberately and intentionally obtain incriminating information from the defendant regarding the crime charged. The difference is purposeful creation of an environment likely to produce incriminating information (Massiah) and action likely to induce an incriminating response even if that was not the officer's purpose or intent (Miranda).

The Sixth Amendment right to counsel is offense specific - the right only applies to post commencement attempts to obtain information relating to the crime charged.[8] The right does not extend to uncharged offenses even those that are factually related to the charged crime.[9]

As noted, information obtained in violation of the defendant's Sixth Amendment right to counsel is subject to suppression unless the government can establish that the defendant waived his right to counsel. The waiver must be knowing, intelligent and voluntary.[10] A valid Miranda waiver operates as a wavier of Sixth Amendment right.

Massiah v. Miranda

1. Constitutional Basis - Miranda is based on the Sixth Amendment right to counsel and the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Massiah is based on the Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

2. Attachment - Miranda: Custody + Interrogation. (Charging status irrelevant) Massiah: Formally Charged + Deliberate Elicitation. (Custodial status irrelevant)

3. Scope a. Miranda applies to custodial interrogation by known governmental agents. Surreptitious acquisition of incriminating information allowed.

a. Massiah applies to overt and surreptitious interrogation.

b. Miranda is not offense specific.[11] b. Massiah is offense specific.[12]

c. Miranda: interrogation + "functional equivalent" c. Massiah: interrogation + "deliberate elicitation"

4. Waiver: Both Miranda and Massiah rights may be waived.

5. Assertion: In each case, the assertion must be clear and unequivocal. The effects of assertion are not identical. For purposes of Miranda, the police must immediately cease the interrogation and cannot resume interrogating the defendant about any offense charged or uncharged unless counsel is present or defendant initiates contact for purposes of resuming interrogation and valid waiver obtained. Because Massiah is offense-specific, an assertion of the sixth amendment right to counsel requires the police to cease interrogating the defendant about any charged offense. Apparently the police could continue questioning the defendant about uncharged crimes assuming that the defendant was not in custody. The defendant's remedy would be to leave or to refuse to answer questions.[13]

6. Remedy for violation: The statements and testimonial information are subject to suppression. Derivative evidence is usually not subject to suppression under Miranda pursuant to the "fruit of poisonous tree" doctrine,[14] although it might be suppressed for a Massiah violation.[15] Both Miranda and Massiah defective statements can be used for impeachment purposes.

7. Exceptions: The primary exceptions to Miranda are (1) the routine booking questions exception (2) the jail house informant exception and (3) the public safety exception. In Moulton v. Maine the Supreme Court refused to recognize a public safety exception to the Massiah rule.[16] Massiah allows for the use of jail house informants provided the informants serve merely as "passive listeners."[17]

Massiah and the Voluntariness Standard

The Massiah rule is also to be contrasted with the voluntariness standard of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.[18] The voluntariness standard applies to all police interrogations regardless of the custodial status of the suspect and regardless of whether the suspect has been formally charged. The remedy for a violation of the standard is complete suppression of the statement and any evidence derived from the statement. The statement cannot be used as either substantive evidence of guilt or to impeach the defendant's testimony.[19] The reason for the strictness is the common law's aversion to the use of coerced confessions because of their inherent unreliability. Further the rights to be free from coerced confession cannot be waived nor is it necessary that the victim of coercive police conduct assert his right. In considering the voluntariness standard one must consider the Supreme Court's decision in Colorado v. Connelly.[20] Although federal courts' application of the Connelly rule has been inconsistent and state courts have often failed to appreciate the consequences of the case, Connelly clearly marked a significant change in the application of the voluntariness standard. Before Connelly the test was whether the confession was voluntary considering the totality of the circumstances.[21] "Voluntary" carried its everyday meaning - the confession had to be a product of the exercise of the defendant's free will rather than police coercion.[22] After Connelly the totality of circumstances test is not even triggered unless the defendant can show coercive police conduct.[23] Questions of free will and rational decision making are irrelevant to a due process claim unless police misconduct existed and a causal connection can be shown between the misconduct and the confession.[24]

See also


Works related to Massiah v. United States at Wikisource

  1. ^ 377 U.S. 201 Full text of the opinion courtesy of
  2. ^ United States v. Gouveia, 467 U.S. 180, 187-88, 104 S.Ct. 2292, 2297, 81 L.Ed.2d 146 (1984)."In a line of constitutional cases in this Court stemming back to the Court's landmark opinion in Powell v. Alabama, 287 U. S. 45, it has been firmly established that a person's Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment right to counsel attaches only at or after the time that adversary judicial proceedings have been initiated against him. See Powell v. Alabama, supra; Johnson v. Zerbst,304 U. S. 458; Hamilton v. Alabama, 368 U. S. 52; Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U. S. 335; White v. Maryland, 373 U. S. 59; Massiah v. United States, 377 U. S. 201; United States v. Wade, 388 U. S. 218; Gilbert v. California, 388 U. S. 263; Coleman v. Alabama, 399 U. S. 1." ". . . [W]hile members of the Court have differed as to the existence of the right to counsel in the contexts of some of the above cases, all of those cases have involved points of time at or after the initiation of adversary judicial criminal proceedings -- whether by way of formal charge, preliminary hearing, indictment, information, or arraignment."
  3. ^ Michigan v. Jackson, 475 U.S. 625, 632 (1986); see also Brewer v. Williams, 430 U.S. 387, 398 (1977). In Maine v. Moulton the court stated “By its very terms, it becomes applicable only when the government's role shifts from investigation to accusation. For it is only then that the assistance of one versed in the "intricacies . . . of law," ibid., is needed to assure that the prosecution's case encounters "the crucible of meaningful adversarial testing." The Sixth Amendment right to counsel does not attach until such time as the "government has committed itself to prosecute, and . . . the adverse positions of government and defendant have solidified ...'" Kirby v. Illinois, 406 U. S. 689 (1972).
  4. ^ United States v. Wade, 388 U.S. 218, 226, 87 S.Ct. 1926, 1932, 18 L.Ed.2d 1149 (1967); see also, United States v. Hidalgo, 7 F.3d 1566 (11th Cir. 1993). Under the critical stage analysis, virtually every phase of the criminal trial is a critical stage. Additionally courts have generally held that pretrial hearings regarding conditions of pretrial release and suppression of evidence are considered critical stages. Smith v. Lockhart, 923 F.2d 1314 (8th Cir. 1991) on the other hand courts have generally held that certain pre-trial post accusation investigative procedures are not critical stages. Analysis of fingerprints, blood samples, clothing, hair, handwriting, and voice samples have all been ruled to be noncritical stages. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, (2001)
  5. ^ Brewer v. Williams, 97 S. Ct. 1232 (1977) "That the incriminating statements were elicited surreptitiously in the Massiah case, and otherwise here, is constitutionally irrelevant. See ibid.; McLeod v. Ohio, 381 U. S. 356; United States v. Crisp, 435 F.2d 354, 358 (CA7)"
  6. ^ Illinois v. Perkins, 496 U.S. 292 (1990).
  7. ^ Massiah does not prohibit the government's use of a cellmate as a "silent listening post" - a person who is simply placed in a position to hear any incriminating statements the defendant might make about the charged offense but who does not do anything to coax or induce the defendant to talk about the charged crime. Kuhlmann v. Wilson, 477 U.S. 436 (1986).
  8. ^ McNeil v. Wisconsin, 111 S. Ct. 2204 (1991). Lower federal courts has extended the Sixth Amendment right to counsel to factually related offenses. In Texas v. Cobb, the Supreme Court made clear that the right to counsel appled only to the crime charged and did not apply to attempts to gather information about "other offenses 'closely related factually' to the charged offense." Texas v. Cobb, 121 S. Ct. 1335 (2001).
  9. ^ Texas v. Cobb, 121 S. Ct. 1335 (2001).
  10. ^ Brewer v. Williams, 430 U.S. 387 (1977)
  11. ^ Mathis v. United States, 391 U.S. 1 (1968)
  12. ^ See McNeil v. Wisconsin, 501 U.S. 171 (1991)
  13. ^ Under Michigan v. Jackson, a defendant's request for counsel at a preliminary hearing constituted an assertion of his sixth amendment right to counsel. However, Michigan v. Jackson was overruled by Montejo v. Louisiana .
  14. ^ United States v. Patane, 542 U.S. 630 (2004)
  15. ^ Fellers v. United States,124 S.Ct. 1019 (2004)
  16. ^ 474 U.S. 159 (1989)
  17. ^ The due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments provide another basis for challenging the admissibility of confessions. The test is whether the statement was "voluntary." A statement is not voluntary if it was the product of police misconduct. That is a due process claim requires that the defendant establish that there was police misconduct and that this misconduct induced the confession. The "voluntariness" test is implicated in any police interrogation - neither Miranda "custody" or Massiah "commencement of formal criminal proceedings" is a necessary conditions (state action is required). Further, there are no issues of waiver or assertion. Finally the remedy is complete - an involuntary statement cannot be used for any purpose.
  18. ^ The leading case is Brown v. Mississippi, 297 U.S. 278 (1936)
  19. ^ Originally MIranda was regarded as a “prophylactic” rule - the rule itself was not a constitutional right but a " judicially–created enforcement mechanism" devised to protect the underlying constitutional rights. In Dickerson v. United States, the Court "constitutionalized" the Miranda rule - although the decision did not perforce change the rule concerning the use of a Miranda-defective statement for impeachment purposes.
  20. ^ Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157 (1986)
  21. ^ See Mincey v. Arizona, 437 U.S. 385 (1978); Greenwald v. Wisconsin, 390 U. S. 519, 390 U. S. 521 (1968) ("Considering the totality of these circumstances, we do not think it credible that petitioner's statements were the product of his free and rational choice"); Reck v. Pate, 367 U. S. 433, 367 U. S. 440 (1961) ("If [a defendant's will was overborne], the confession cannot be deemed `the product of a rational intellect and a free will"')
  22. ^ See e.g., Culombe v. Connecticut, 367 U. S. 568, 367 U. S. 583 (1961) ("[A]n extrajudicial confession, if it was to be offered in evidence against a man, must be the product of his own free choice")
  23. ^ Bloom & Brodin, Criminal Procedure (Aspen 1996) at 247.
  24. ^ Bloom & Brodin, Criminal Procedure (Aspen 1996)
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