Escobedo v. Illinois 378 U.S. 478 (1964)

views updated

ESCOBEDO v. ILLINOIS 378 U.S. 478 (1964)

Daniel Escobedo was arrested and taken to the police station for questioning. Over the course of several hours, his repeated requests to see his lawyer were refused and his lawyer sought unsuccessfully to consult with him. The Supreme Court held that Escobedo's subsequent confession was obtained in violation of his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. For the first time, the Court spoke of "an absolute constitutional right to remain silent," which the presence of a lawyer would facilitate. Escobedo is important also because it presaged miranda v. arizona (1966) in discussing the possibility that warnings about the right to counsel might serve to cure the infirmity of in-custody interrogation.

Although Escobedo retains historical significance, the arguments in police interrogation and confession cases have largely shifted from the Sixth to the Fifth Amendment with an emphasis on whether warnings were given, and given correctly, and whether the right to remain silent was waived.

The case has lost authority as precedent in another respect. It seemed to establish a practical flexible standard for the time when Sixth Amendment rights would come into play: when "the investigation is no longer a general inquiry into an unresolved crime but has begun to focus on a particular suspect." This approach was specifically abandoned in Kirby v. Illinois (1972), when the court limited Escobedo to its facts and ruled that the right to counsel does not attach until adversary judicial proceedings have been initiated.

Barbara Allen Babcock

About this article

Escobedo v. Illinois 378 U.S. 478 (1964)

Updated About content Print Article