Constitutional Law—Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Distinguishes Thompkins’s Unambiguous Invocation Requirement of Right to Remain Silent—Commonwealth v. Clarke, 960 N.E.2d 306 (Mass. 2012)

PdfPDF by David C. SoutterFebruary-24-2013

Category: Case Comments, Number 1, Print Edition, Volume 46


The United States Supreme Court famously held in Miranda v. Arizona that the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination granted a series of required safeguards, and outlined a way a suspect can invoke his rights.  In 2010, the Court revisited this issue in Berghuis v. Thompkins, holding that a suspect simply remaining silent was not enough, but he must “unambiguously” announce his intention to invoke the right to remain silent.  In Commonwealth v. Clarke,  the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts (SJC) considered Thompkins in determining whether a suspect’s head shaking constituted an unambiguous invocation of the right to remain silent.  The SJC held that the defendant’s shaking of his head met the heightened Thompkins standard and also distinguished Thompkins because article XII of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights did not require “utmost clarity” to invoke the right to remain silent. . .

Read the full Case Comment here.

Author: David C. Soutter


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