Note: We are crunching Supreme Court of Wisconsin decisions down to size. The rule for this is that no justice gets more than 10 paragraphs as written in the actual decision. The "upshot" and "background" sections do not count as part of the 10 paragraphs because of their summary and very necessary nature. We've also removed citations from the opinion for ease of reading, but have linked to important cases cited or information about them.
Majority: Justice Brian Hagedorn (19 pp.)
Concurrence: Justice Rebecca Grassl Bradley (10 pp.), joined by Justice Annette Ziegler
Concurrence: Justice Rebecca Dallet (7 pp.), joined by Justices Ann Walsh Bradley and Jill Karofsky.
The full opinion is here.
While this court need not always follow federal constitutional interpretation in lockstep, we conclude that neither the Wisconsin Constitution nor the purposes underlying the Miranda warnings support a judicially-created rule treating all incarcerated individuals as "in custody." In the alternative, (Brian L) Halverson contends that his incriminating statements should be suppressed because he was "in custody" under the traditional Miranda custody test. We disagree and conclude that Halverson was not in custody for purposes of Miranda.
The question in this case concerns the scope of "custody" for purposes of Miranda. The defendant, Brian L. Halverson, was an inmate in jail when he returned a call from an officer regarding an incident at Halverson's prior correctional institution. During the short call, the officer asked Halverson about an inmate's missing property, and Halverson admitted that he took and destroyed the property. No Miranda warnings were given. Halverson argues that his statements must be suppressed because he was in custody as an inmate in jail, and therefore he also was most assuredly "in custody" for purposes of Miranda.
In a 1999 case, this court agreed. Relying on United States Supreme Court precedent, we held "that a person who is incarcerated is per se in custody for purposes of Miranda." In 2012, however, the United States Supreme Court clarified this is not what federal law requires. In Howes v. Fields, the Court concluded that the Constitution contains no such per se rule. The Court emphasized that "custody" for purposes of Miranda is a term of art; it is not consonant with the inability to leave or with incarceration generally. Whether a suspect was "in custody" depends on an inquiry of the totality of the circumstances, looking to the degree of restraint and coercive nature of the interrogation....
The circuit court relied on (an officer's) uncontested testimony as factual background, but it granted Halverson's motion to suppress. The circuit court concluded it was bound to apply Armstrong's per se rule that incarcerated individuals are in custody for Miranda purposes....
The State appealed and the court of appeals reversed. The court of appeals held that the per se rule adopted by this court in Armstrong was effectively overruled by the United States Supreme Court in Howes, and it declined to readopt the per se rule under the Wisconsin Constitution. It further concluded that Halverson was not in custody for purposes of Miranda under the totality of the circumstances. We granted Halverson's petition for review and agree with the court of appeals.
The issues in this case center on the nature of "custody" for purposes of determining whether Miranda warnings must be administered. Halverson contends he was in custody for two independent reasons. First, Halverson argues all incarcerated individuals should be deemed "in custody" for purposes of Miranda solely due to their incarceration. Although the United States Supreme Court rejected a per se rule to this effect, he asks us to adopt this approach under the Wisconsin Constitution. Second, if we decline that request (as we do), Halverson asserts the totality of the circumstances nonetheless demonstrates he was in custody for purposes of Miranda....
Miranda is a judicially instituted effort to protect against self-incrimination by creating an unrebuttable legal presumption of coercion whenever the warnings are not administered....
The Miranda custody analysis proceeds in two steps. First, courts "ascertain whether, in light of 'the objective circumstances of the interrogation,' a 'reasonable person [would] have felt he or she was not at liberty to terminate the interrogation and leave.'" This requires examining the totality of the circumstances, including relevant factors such as "the location of the questioning, its duration, statements made during the interview, the presence or absence of physical restraints during the questioning, and the release of the interviewee at the end of the questioning." The inability to leave and terminate the conversation, however, is not enough on its own to trigger the need for Miranda warnings....Instead, courts proceed to the second step in the custody analysis where they ask "whether the relevant environment presents the same inherently coercive pressures as the type of station house questioning at issue in Miranda."
(In Howe) the (U.S. Supreme) Court expressly rejected a categorical rule that questioning an inmate is custodial. Instead it reviewed and re-emphasized the two-step, totality-of-the-circumstances custody inquiry established in prior cases. Using that analysis, it reasoned that incarcerated individuals are not automatically in custody for purposes of Miranda. The Court offered three reasons to support its conclusion – all centering on whether the environment necessarily contains the same coercive pressures that animated the Court's holding in Miranda. First, questioning an incarcerated person does not involve the same kind of shock accompanying someone arrested in the first instance, and therefore the coercive pressures are substantially diminished. Second, incarcerated individuals have far less pressure to speak with the hope of securing release. They know that when the questioning is finished, they will remain incarcerated. Finally, incarcerated individuals know that their questioners "probably lack authority to affect the duration of [their] sentence." Therefore, the Court held that incarceration alone does not necessarily implicate the same anti-coercion interests that motivated the Court's prophylactic efforts in Miranda.
In this case, the court of appeals correctly deduced that it was bound to follow the United States Supreme Court's decision in Howes rather than our earlier decision in Armstrong....
Halverson recognizes that Miranda warnings are a prophylactic tool fashioned to protect the privilege against self-incrimination, a right independently protected in both constitutions. Halverson therefore asks this court to create an expanded prophylactic to protect a person's rights under the Wisconsin Constitution....
We have generally interpreted Article I, Section 8 (of the Wisconsin Constitution) consistent with the protections afforded by the Fifth Amendment. Halverson provides no textual or historical basis to suggest any meaningful difference between the two provisions meriting an expanded judicially-created prophylactic rule. Nor do we see any basis in the Wisconsin Constitution for Halverson's request.
Instead, Halverson focuses chiefly on the argument that incarceration inherently creates the kind of custodial circumstances meriting Miranda warnings. We agree, however, with the Supreme Court's determination in Howes that a per se rule does not serve the anti-coercion purposes of Miranda....Halverson's circumstances do not even satisfy the standard requirements for custody under Miranda's framework. Further, no facts in Halverson's case indicate coercion or anything close to it. And that is the whole point of requiring Miranda warnings in the first place.... This was why the United States Supreme Court rejected the per se rule in Howes, and Halverson offers no strong reasons to diverge from this rationale.
Halverson has an alternative argument——namely, that he was "in custody" for purposes of Miranda under the prevailing two-step inquiry examining the totality of the circumstances....
For many of the same reasons, proceeding to the second step of the custody analysis, we conclude Halverson's environment did not "present the same inherently coercive pressures as the type of station house questioning at issue in Miranda." He spoke to Officer (Matthew) Danielson over the phone in the jail's community room where he was alone, without physical restraints, and could sit or stand at will. The interview lasted less than five minutes, and during that time Officer Danielson kept his tone calm. These circumstances are nowhere close to the kind of coercive pressures of station-house questioning that sparked the Supreme Court's holding in Miranda.
I join the majority opinion in full. I write separately to address the petitioner's reliance on State v. Knapp. Because the Knapp court's interpretation of Article I, Section 8 of the Wisconsin Constitution lacks any mooring in text or history, this court should restore the original meaning of this constitutional provision....
The Wisconsin Supreme Court held that the Wisconsin Constitution's analog to the Fifth Amendment – Article I, Section 8 – affords greater protections than the United States Constitution. In particular...(the) second Knapp court held that, "[w]here physical evidence is obtained as the direct result of an intentional Miranda violation, . . . [Article I, Section 8 of the Wisconsin Constitution] requires that the evidence must be suppressed...." The Knapp II court invented the sanction of suppressing evidence because the officer's "conduct at issue was particularly repugnant and require[d] deterrence." The Knapp II court also invoked the "preservation of judicial integrity" as a basis for contriving a different meaning for Article I, Section 8 than the United States Supreme Court gives the nearly identical Fifth Amendment....
Halverson's reliance on that case to request an expanded prophylactic to protect the privilege against self-incrimination indicates it is time for this court to revisit Knapp's holding....Restoring the proper method of interpreting Article I, Section 8 is imperative if this court takes seriously its oath to uphold the Wisconsin Constitution. The question for this court is not whether the Wisconsin Constitution should afford greater protections, but whether it "actually affords greater protection[s]...."
"Because Article I, Section 8 does not require suppression of evidence obtained as the result of voluntary statements made by a criminal suspect from whom the reading of Miranda rights was withheld, only a constitutional amendment could create this remedy. The court in Knapp II acted beyond its authority in devising it. Its holding should be overturned. " – Justice Rebecca Grassl Bradley
The only permissible avenue for deviating from the United States Supreme Court's interpretation of the Fifth Amendment would be uncovering a historical meaning of Article I, Section 8 different from the original public meaning of its federal counterpart. The Knapp II court failed to do so....The judiciary must exercise its judgment, not its will. These principles do not reflect a novel approach to constitutional interpretation but form the core of the Founders' conception for the judicial role....
Knapp II's holding lacks any foundation in the text or historical meaning of the constitutional language it construed. It rests solely on judicial policy preferences rather than the law and was rendered without any textual analysis or historical examination of the controlling language of the constitution. While state constitutional provisions may afford greater protections than the United States Constitution, the constitution itself must actually provide them. Although a majority of this court may prefer certain constitutional protections for criminal suspects, it remains the prerogative of the people of Wisconsin to bestow them. Because Article I, Section 8 does not require suppression of evidence obtained as the result of voluntary statements made by a criminal suspect from whom the reading of Miranda rights was withheld, only a constitutional amendment could create this remedy. The court in Knapp II acted beyond its authority in devising it. Its holding should be overturned.
As the majority aptly recognizes, neither the United States nor the Wisconsin Constitution supports a judicially created, per se rule by which all incarcerated persons are in custody for purposes of Miranda.1 I write separately to emphasize that the Wisconsin Constitution was never intended to be interpreted in lockstep with the United States Constitution. Indeed, when it comes to certain individual liberties, particularly the right against self-incrimination, this court has long held that the Wisconsin Constitution provides greater protection than its federal counterpart....
The individual liberties protected by the Wisconsin Constitution, especially the right against self-incrimination, are fundamental to our liberty and must be staunchly guarded by this court: The rights intended to be protected by [Article I, Section 8 of the Wisconsin Constitution] are so sacred, and the pressure so great towards their relaxation in case where suspicion of guilt is strong and evidence obscure, that it is the duty of the courts to liberally construe the prohibition in favor of private rights, and to refuse to permit those first and doubtful steps which may invade it in any respect.
Even before the exclusionary rule became obligatory upon the states pursuant to Mapp v. Ohio, we held that evidence seized in violation of the right against self-incrimination must be excluded from trial, thus elevating the right to one of substance rather than a mere "form of words." We explained that there was "no reason in logic, justice, or in that innate sense of fair play," that evidence obtained in violation of one's right against self-incrimination should be treated any differently than that obtained in violation of one's right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures....
The facts of Knapp II are particularly egregious. Detective Timothy Roets arrived at Matthew Knapp's apartment ostensibly to arrest him for consuming alcohol, a parole violation. But in reality, the arrest was the start of Roets's investigation into Knapp for a woman's murder the night before. When Knapp saw Roets, he picked up the phone to call his attorney. Knapp eventually hung up the phone and let Roets in; Knapp informed Roets that he had been attempting to call his attorney. Without reading Knapp his Miranda warnings, Roets asked Knapp about the clothes he had been wearing the night before. Knapp pointed to a pile of clothes on the floor, which contained a bloody sweatshirt. Roets collected those clothes and formally placed Knapp under arrest. During continued questioning by Roets, Knapp twice said that an attorney told him not to talk to the police and that he would not write or sign a statement without an attorney. Roets never read Knapp the Miranda warnings.
"Federal courts interpret the federal constitution. We have the final say on ours. And for nearly a century, we have held that, in comparison to those protected by the federal constitution, the individual liberties enshrined in the Wisconsin Constitution are rights 'of substance rather than mere tinsel.' We should keep it that way." – Justice Rebecca Dallet
At a Miranda-Goodchild hearing, Roets admitted that he deliberately did not inform Knapp of his Miranda rights. Roets testified he was concerned that Knapp, who had requested an attorney, would refuse to make a statement once he learned of his rights. So, "to keep the lines of communication open," Roets purposefully withheld the Miranda warnings prior to questioning Knapp about his clothing.
This court held that, under Article I, Section 8 of the Wisconsin Constitution, the exclusionary rule bars the prosecution from introducing at trial the "physical fruits"——in Knapp II, the bloody sweatshirt——of a deliberate Miranda violation. We reached this conclusion for two important reasons: to deter bad police behavior and to preserve the integrity of the judiciary. First, we reasoned that the Constitution could not abide such repugnant police conduct. We recognized that holding otherwise would send law enforcement the wrong message; that it was "better to interrogate a suspect without the Miranda warnings than to use legitimate means to investigate crime." The Constitution, however, does not permit law enforcement to intentionally disregard its personal-liberty guarantees in order to obtain evidence.
Second, we noted that the judicial system maintains its reputation as a fair and neutral arbiter only if it holds all parties to the same constitutional standards. Safeguarding Wisconsinites' constitutional rights means ensuring that those rights are protected throughout the entire prosecutorial process. But that process would be "systematically corrupted" if we were to allow into the courtroom evidence obtained by unconstitutional "investigatory shortcuts." Indeed, just as "[i]t is not too much to expect law enforcement to respect the law," it is not too much
Neither party has asked us to overturn Knapp II. In fact, at oral argument, the State expressly told the court that it was "not asking for Knapp II to be overturned." And, as the majority rightly points out, "Knapp [II] does not suggest anything" about how the court should resolve Halverson's case.
Yet Justice Rebecca Grassl Bradley's concurrence calls on the court to overturn Knapp II anyway, ignoring our robust tradition of independently interpreting the Wisconsin Constitution. But to do so would not only erode Wisconsinites' constitutional protections by sanctioning flagrant and deliberate due-process violations, it would also take a step toward making our own Constitution redundant with the federal one. To abandon Knapp II is to abandon this court's long history of upholding the Wisconsin Constitution's protection against overbearing law-enforcement practices, even if those practices meet the federally mandated minimum requirements.
Federal courts interpret the federal constitution. We have the final say on ours. And for nearly a century, we have held that, in comparison to those protected by the federal constitution, the individual liberties enshrined in the Wisconsin Constitution are rights "of substance rather than mere tinsel." We should keep it that way.
Help WJI advocate for justice in Wisconsin