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Oregon v. Elstad

Dissenting Opinions

Justice Brennan, joined by Justice Marshall, claimed that there was a refutable presumption that a confession obtained in violation of Miranda tainted subsequent confessions, and that the taint could not be dissipated solely by giving Miranda warnings. He argued that to resolve this case the practice of state courts should be examined. His view was that the practice justified application of the "cat out of the bag" presumption to this case, and therefore there had been a causal connection between the confession obtained in violation of Miranda and the subsequent confession preceded by the usual Miranda warnings. (Justice O'Connor, writing for the majority, referred to these arguments of the dissenting justices, and noted that their reasoning did not include the fact that there had obviously not been any compulsion present in obtaining either of the two statements.) Justice Brennan also wrote that the police officers should have given an additional warning while they had been informing the suspect of his Miranda rights. They should have clarified that Elstad's prior confession could not have been used against him, and that would have sufficed to dissipate the taint from the subsequent confession. Brennan concluded that the Court's decision undermined the rights protected by Miranda warnings.

In a separate dissenting opinion, Justice Stevens objected to the Court's finding that there was no presumption of coercion in obtaining both confessions. It was an ill-founded conclusion, since Miranda regulated that both the state of custody and failure to administer Miranda warnings presumed presence of compulsion. He reasoned that the Court intended its holding to apply only to a narrow category of cases in which the first statement was obtained in uncoercive setting and had no influence on the second. He concluded that even such an exception was discordant with prior cases, and the attempt to identify its boundaries in future cases would breed confusion and uncertainty in the administration of criminal justice.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988Oregon v. Elstad - Miranda Warnings, Inadmissible Confessions?, The Second Confession Is Admissible, Dissenting Opinions, Impact, Further Readings