FindLaw.com users are awfully concerned with marijuana law and Miranda rights, catapulting both onto the list of FindLaw.com's top legal search terms of 2010.
Miranda rights and Miranda v. Arizona are a well known part of the criminal process, popping up on television shows nightly. As an essential safeguard of constitutional rights, they've also spent a lot of time in the news this past year.
During 2010, the Supreme Court issued three separate opinions that limited the scope of Miranda. In the first case, the court approved a Miranda statement--the police's spiel upon arrest--that does not inform a suspect that he has a right to a lawyer being present during questioning.
In a second case, the court decided that a request for a lawyer only lasts for 14 days after release from custody, at which time a suspect can be questioned without his attorney. Thirdly, and most absurdly, the court ruled that a suspect must affirmatively state--out loud--that he is invoking his right to be silent, or he risks that silence being used against him in court.
Marijuana law, or more specifically, medical marijuana law, also saw big headlines in 2010. California considered making regular marijuana use legal, while other states were still grappling with the medical marijuana issue.
A slowdown in the public's interest in marijuana law is not likely during 2011. While both Montana and California have each enacted a medical marijuana law, they are now considering how to handle users who face drug tests at work.
- Miranda Rights Trimmed Down By Supreme Court (Huffington Post)
- Adequacy of Miranda Warnings Addressed in Florida v. Powell (FindLaw's Supreme Court blog)
- Supreme Court: Miranda Warnings Only Apply When Invoked (FindLaw's Decided)
- 14 Days: Supreme Court Sets Miranda Deadline (FindLaw's Decided)