Reviews

American Library Association logo
ALA Booklist logo

September 15, 2004
Reviewed by: David Pitt

It seems odd to think of it, but a suspect's right to remain silent is only four decades old. Well, that's not precisely true: U.S. citizens have had the right not to incriminate themselves for some time, but it was not until the 1963 case of Miranda v. Arizona that advising a suspect of the right to remain silent became encoded in law.

 

When told he had been identified by a witness, Ernesto Miranda, an accused serial rapist, figured he might as well fess up. He didn't know he had the right to keep his mouth shut because the police officers hadn't told him. That simple, seemingly insignificant incident changed the American legal system in a massive way.

 

The author, an attorney and law professor who knew many of the people involved in the Miranda case and its aftermath, tells the story simply, making even the most complicated and subtle legal points entirely clear. He also explores how the Miranda decision affects law enforcement in the post-9/11 world. Interesting, timely, and important.

 


from Arizona State University Insight
September 15, 2004

By John Jarvis
Anyone who’s watched a police drama on television can probably recite the “Miranda warning” by heart. The authorities, after all, are supposed to notify suspects before they are subjected to custodial interrogation.

But what some people may not know is that the now-famous phrase traces its roots back to a 1963 criminal case in Arizona. There may be no one more familiar with the Miranda case and its impact on U.S. history than Gary Stuart, who serves on the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) and has written a book titled “Miranda: The Story of Stuart America’s Right to Remain Silent.”

“The core of this book is about something that happens thousands of times every day in America,” Stuart says. The Alumni Lounge in ASU’s Memorial Union will be the site of a book-signing reception for Stuart at 3:30 p.m., Oct. 4, hosted by ASU President Michael Crow. The reception also will feature Gov. Janet Napolitano -  who wrote the foreword for the book - and other ABOR members. Included at the reception will be Lorraine Frank, the widow of the late John P. Frank (1917—2002), to whom Stuart dedicated the book. The John P. Frank Lecture Series at ASU’s School of Justice and Social Inquiry is named after the prominent Arizona lawyer, who made a name for himself as one of the defense attorneys in the Miranda case.

“I undertook the writing of this book not simply because Miranda v. Arizona stands as one of the most important events in the annals of American legal history,” says Stuart, who teaches trial advocacy, legal ethics and creative writing for lawyers at ASU’s College of Law. “I was also drawn to the story because I’ve spent my career practicing, teaching, and writing about the law in the state where the story began, unfolded and ultimately concluded.”

Ernesto Miranda was an uneducated Hispanic man arrested in March 1963 in connection with a series of sexual assaults. He confessed to the crimes and was convicted almost entirely because he had incriminated himself without knowing it and without knowing he didn’t have to.
Stuart, who received his bachelor’s degree in 1965 and his law degree in 1967 from the University of Arizona, is a trial lawyer and former law review editor who knows many of the people involved in the case, which ranks as one of the most significant ever heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In his book, Stuart reveals the inside story about the Miranda case, as well as the legal history of the accused’s right to seek counsel and to remain silent. “In 1966, when Miranda came down, I was a third-year law student at the University of Arizona,” Stuart says. “I was lucky enough to take advanced constitutional law from Professor John P. Frank, the man largely responsible for the legal consequences in the Miranda case.”

Frank teamed with John Flynn to serve as Miranda’s counsel, and their work soon focused a national spotlight on the issue of their client’s rights. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1966 that Miranda’s rights had been violated; that decision resulted in the “Miranda warning,” which reads: “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 speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.”

Ten years after the ruling in the case that bears his name, Miranda was killed in a knife fight at a Phoenix bar; his suspected killer was read the “Miranda warning” and declined to give a statement. He was released and promptly fled to Mexico. The Miranda murder case became a “closed file.”

Stuart’s book considers the legacy of the Miranda case and its implications for cases in the wake of 9/11, including the rights of suspected terrorists. In the book, 24 individuals directly concerned with the decision — lawyers, judges and police officers, as well as suspects, scholars and ordinary citizens — offer observations on the case’s impact on law enforcement and on the rights of the accused.

“Today, thousands of police officers all over America give 30-second tutorials on constitutional law; we call them ‘Miranda warnings,’ “Stuart says. “That alone is reason enough to celebrate the Miranda decision.”


“Gary Stuart has written a stirring, vivid history of a watershed moment in American justice  -  a data-rich account that reads at times like a novel.  But more, his fresh look at the Miranda ruling and our right to remain silent could not be more timely.  Knowing the basis of what has become a cornerstone of our legal system is essential to understanding the part of the sudden evolution we're undergoing as a nation.  This may be the most important book published by a university press this year.  It is magnificent work.”
Ron Carlson, Regents Professor of English, Arizona State University


"A fascinating and highly readable account of the events and issues surrounding the Supreme Court's decision in Miranda.  Stuart draws on his multiple talents as lawyer, writer, and friend of the major Arizona protagonists in this case to offer a rich and rewarding understanding, for layman and lawyer alike, as to how Miranda became a household word in the American criminal justice system."  
Lattie Coor, President Emeritus and Professor of Public Affairs, Arizona State University


"This book is a tribute to both Miranda v. Arizona and its brilliant
legal architect--John P. Frank, Esq.  Frank's close friend, Gary Stuart, has captured the thinking, writing, and persuasive genius that contributed so much to making police interrogation of suspects fairer  through the now famous Miranda Warnings.  The American right to remain silent, regardless of whether one can afford a lawyer, comes to life in this engaging recounting of the complex details of the case, its progeny and its legacy."
Michael Traynor, Esq., San Francisco, California


More reviews

 

 

 

Miranda: The Story of America's Right to Remain Silent
Copyright © 2004, Gary L. Stuart. All rights reserved.
Available at Alibris, Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and your local bookseller
page last revised: 10/25/04