Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Thoughts on Miranda

Not too long ago, while convalescing from an illness, I found myself watching an episode of COPS. Why, I'm not entirely sure, since it's not something I ordinarily seek out. Near as I can tell, I fell asleep watching Ninja Warrior, and that happened to be the next thing on the schedule.

You learn all kinds of interesting things from COPS.

For instance, it always pays to stay sober and to keep your shirt on. The dudes on COPS that are drunk and shirtless almost always get a free ride downtown. "What'd this one do, Leroy?" "Dunno, Bob. But he was drunk, and wasn't wearing a shirt. Hadda be doin' something." "Works for me. Book 'em!"

What it really got me thinking about, though, was the Miranda warning. Based on what I saw, Miranda is in sore need of an update.

Here's a boilerplate version of the Miranda warning:

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

Now, here's my new and improved version:

You have the right to remain silent. Oh please, dear sweet Jesus, remain silent! But no. You'll rant, and rave, and make pronouncements. You'll make all kinds of bold statements that we'll record for the DA's amusement. He'll take those statements, fold them 'till they're all corners, and ram them home where the Sun don't shine. When they're replayed in court, your attorney -- and you can have an attorney whenever you want, whether you can afford it or not -- your attorney will groan, hide his face in his hands, and bitterly curse the day he gave up hanging sheet rock for the study of law. But for now, for right now, you have a golden opportunity to shut the hell up. Please, for all our sakes, take it!

I don't expect it to catch on. But it probably accurately reflects what a lot of officers really feel...

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