Washington Law Review


Miranda v. Arizona created an exclusionary rule that prohibits using, as part of the prosecution's case in chief, evidence that is obtained as the result of unwarned custodial interrogation. In Michigan v. Tucker and Oregon v. Elstad, the United States Supreme Court narrowed the scope of this rule in relation to the "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine that excludes all evidence derived from constitutional violations. The Tucker Court held that the testimony of a witness identified from an unwarned statement should be admitted, and the Elstad Court held that a warned statement following an unwarned statement should also be admitted. In both cases, the primary rationale for the exceptions was the prophylactic status of the Miranda rule. This status distinguished Miranda violations from constitutional violations to which the fruits doctrine was applicable. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed its earlier characterization of Miranda as a prophylactic rule, and instead reaffirmed the rule's constitutional status in Dickerson v. United States. After Dickerson, a circuit split developed regarding the admissibility of physical evidence derived from unwamed statements excluded at trial. This Comment argues that the U.S. Supreme Court should hold that both the unwarned statement and its derivative physical evidence should be excluded from the prosecution's case in chief. Fifth Amendment precedent mandates applying the fruits doctrine to physical evidence derived from an unwared statement in order to effectively deter violations of Miranda and to ensure the trustworthiness of evidence obtained in the interrogation setting.

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