Chestertown, MD, December 14, 2004 — John B. Taylor, Ph.D., Washington College's Louis L. Goldstein Professor of Public Affairs and a specialist on American constitutional law and history, has released a new book, Right to Counsel and Privilege against Self-Incrimination: Rights and Liberties under the Law, as part of the “America's Freedoms” series from ABC-CLIO publishers. Right to Counsel and Privilege against Self-Incrimination analyzes these two complementary rights of the accused in the context of their interpretation by the U.S. Supreme Court and the ongoing debate over their role in the criminal justice system.
In 1963, Ernesto Miranda, a poor Mexican immigrant, was arrested in Phoenix, Arizona, for kidnapping and rape. After a two-hour interrogation resulting in a confession, Miranda was convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison, but the police had never informed him of his right to counsel and his right not to incriminate himself. Miranda argued that his conviction should be overturned because his confession should not have been admitted as evidence—and the Supreme Court agreed. That decision aroused a storm of controversy and forged a new link between two basic rights. Right to Counsel and Privilege against Self-Incrimination explores the origins, historical development, current status, and future of these two rights intended to protect persons accused of crimes.
“The right to counsel and privilege against self-incrimination are linked in important ways,” writes Taylor. “These are the two rights that relate most centrally to the manner in which a criminal defendant presents himself or herself and the case to police, judge, and jury; the rights that affect most directly the defendant's ability to say effectively the things he or she wishes to say and to decline to say the things he or she does not wish to say. These rights are fundamental today, but there was a time in Anglo-American legal history when the problem was not simply that they could be violated, but that they did not exist at all.”
Two case studies presented by Taylor—Powell v. Alabama and Brown v. Mississippi—reveal the brutal injustices suffered by Southern blacks in the 1930s and explain how the Supreme Court made landmark decisions that began to expand the coverage of the right to counsel and the privilege against self-incrimination. After a brief review of the English and colonial origins of these rights, Taylor canvasses all of the major cases in their evolution, with particular focus given to the revolutionary cases of the 20th century that produced a convergence of these rights in the famous case of Miranda v. Arizona (1966). The work also examines subsequent cases and discusses issues that lie ahead, including those related to the war on terror, the availability and cost of effective counsel—especially for defendants in capital cases—and the continuing controversy over whether the Miranda decision has helped suspects or hindered police.
For students of the Constitution and civil liberties, Right to Counsel and Privilege against Self-Incrimination features a chronology of cases, a glossary of entries on key individuals and cases, excerpts from seminal Supreme Court decisions, and an extensive annotated bibliography.
Taylor is the chair of the Department of Political Science at Washington College, where he teaches courses on American government, political thought, constitutional law, civil liberties, and criminal justice, and advises pre-law students. He received his doctorate from Princeton University and has taught at the college since 1972.