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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Circuit Swats Off Claims of Inadequate Miranda

CHICAGO (CN) - A criminal suspect can waive Miranda rights by slightly nodding and responding "pshh" before trying to negotiate a plea agreement, the 7th Circuit ruled.

After fleeing from officers with a handgun in his pants waistband, Illinois resident Jimmy Brown was arrested on suspicion of illegally possessing a firearm. Brown was informed of his Miranda rights in the back of a police car. He nodded his head and responded, "Pshh," before explaining that he carried a gun because there was a "murder hit" on his head and that he wanted a deal to stay out of jail.

Brown is now serving 15 years in federal prison after a jury conviction. At trial, a judge had refused to suppress Brown's post-arrest statements.

Brown's appeal met little sympathy at the 7th Circuit, which ruled that he had voluntarily provided information in hope of making a deal with police. The court referenced Brown's "substantial experience with the criminal justice system," including six previous convictions, as evidence that he knew his rights.

"While Brown's immediate responses to his Miranda warnings may have been ambiguous, defendant's attempts to negotiate a deal and his selective answering of questions are evidence that he understood his rights and voluntarily waived them," Judge Richard Cudahy wrote for a three-member panel.

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