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Important Matters

The breathless distress that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving alleged Boston marathon bomber, shouldn’t have been read his Miranda warnings by a federal judge is overblown. Federal law requires, (attention the “lawmakers” who made this noise) that once an accused is arrested and charged with a crime  he/she must immediately be brought before a judge for an “initial appearance”. At this proceeding, the same federal law requires the judge appoint the defendant counsel and  advise that person of their  constitutional rights (Miranda warnings). The sequence of events transpired this way.  Tsarnaev was arrested after being hauled out of hiding, taken into custody, placed in a hospital room, then formally charged in a Criminal Complaint, authored by an FBI agent (in reality reviewed, revised  and presented by a federal prosecutor). Judge Bowler went to the hospital room and conducted the proceeding.

Is there any leeway in this or are there exceptions to providing Miranda warnings? Sure. It starts and ends, however, with law enforcement. Since 1984, the Supreme Court permits investigators, in the interest of “public safety”, to question suspects for an unspecified time without giving them a Miranda warning. The exception is designed to give officials time to determine if there are other threats to public safety. By the time officials began the formal charging process, (and who would have yelled, except maybe his lawyer if this had been delayed?),  its fairly safe to assume, that Tsarnaev had offered up all that he was willing or capable of giving.

Maybe we should save the shouting matches for when we figure out how these guys traveled under the radar for so long when lots of police and federal officials  knew who and what they were.

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About hward

Hugh B. Ward Jr. is an attorney in the private practice of law since Jaunuary 2010. Mr. Ward served as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney's Office, Knoxville,Tennessee. and retired after twenty-five years of federal service. During Mr. Ward's tenure he was involved in all phases of criminal investigations and prosecutions including national security cases, white collar crimes and orgnaized crimes. Mr. Ward particpated in the Joint Terrorism Task Force in the Eastern District of Tennessee. Mr. Ward holds a J.D. from George Mason University, Arlington, Virginia and a Masters Degree in International Affairs from American University, Washington, D.C.. .

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