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Warren Court

Criminal Procedure

The Warren Court aroused bitter controversy with its decisions in CRIMINAL PROCEDURE. The Court sought to provide equal justice by providing criminal defendants with an attorney in felony cases if they could not afford one (GIDEON V. WAINWRIGHT, 372 U.S. 335, 83 S. Ct. 792, 9 L. Ed. 2d 799 [1963]). It also ruled that indigent defendants could not be denied the opportunity to appeal their cases or to participate fully in post-conviction proceedings because of a lack of funds to obtain the necessary transcripts or to hire counsel.

The decision in MIRANDA V. ARIZONA, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1966), proved to be the Warren Court's most controversial criminal procedure case. The Court required what has come to be known as the Miranda warning: police must inform arrested persons that they need not answer questions and that they may have an attorney present during questioning.

In addition, the Court used the Fourteenth Amendment to incorporate federal constitutional rights, thus making them applicable to the states. Using this process, the Court applied the EXCLUSIONARY RULE to the states. This meant that evidence seized in violation of the FOURTH AMENDMENT could not be used in a criminal prosecution. The Warren Court also applied to the states the federal constitutional right against CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT in the EIGHTH AMENDMENT, the RIGHT TO COUNSEL in the SIXTH AMENDMENT, the right against compelled SELF-INCRIMINATION in the FIFTH AMENDMENT, and the rights to confront witnesses and to a jury trial in all criminal cases, which are guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. These decisions radically changed the criminal justice system and generated criticism that the Court had gone too far in protecting the accused.

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