March 2, 2016 — Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law will host a symposium entitled “Celebrating 50 years of Miranda v. Arizona: Past, Present and Future,” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, April 1, in downtown Knoxville.
National and local speakers will travel to Knoxville for the event, which will feature exonerated former defendant Damon Thibodeaux and his attorney, Herbert Larson. The pair will be speaking about Thibodeaux’s false confession following a nine-hour interrogation, his wrongful conviction and 15-year incarceration on death row in Louisiana’s Angola prison. Thibodeaux’s story, which has been featured on CBS’s “48 Hours,” offers insight into the practical effect of the Miranda procedures, or lack thereof, on interrogation.
Some 50 years after the United States Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), the Miranda warnings are ingrained in our society. Prior to any interrogation, a police officer must inform a suspect in custody that the suspect has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him, that he has the right to the assistance of counsel, and that if he cannot afford it, counsel will, on request, be appointed for him at the government’s expense. Once Miranda warnings are given, questioning cannot proceed until the police obtain the suspect’s knowing and intelligent waiver of his rights, and if the suspect indicates at any time that he no longer wishes to talk, then all questioning must cease.
Prior to the Miranda decision, a confession was admissible in court as long as it was considered voluntary. This standard may have prohibited the police from physically beating a confession out of the suspect, but it did not prohibit psychological ploys used by police to secure confessions from unwilling suspects, nor did it address the coercive police environment during the interrogation process. Miranda was meant to level the playing field.
The symposium will address whether Miranda warnings are effective in dispelling the compulsion inherent in custodial surroundings. Speakers will examine whether Miranda is a failure from either the defense or government perspective and investigate whether Miranda has gone far enough, or too far.
The LMU Criminal Law Society has teamed up with the LMU Law Review and Student Bar Association to plan the symposium and assemble a panel of national and local experts. Additional speakers include Joseph Buckley, president of John E. Reid Associates and co-author of “Essentials of The Reid Technique: Criminal Interrogation and Confessions,” Denver Police Detective Roger Wehr, Eighth District Attorney General Jared Effler, Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Kelly Thomas, and local defense attorneys Wade Davies and Joshua Hedrick. A question and answer session with all speakers will be held in the afternoon.
The program has been accepted for 3.25 (2.25 general credit and 1.00 dual) CLE credit hours. Admission for attorneys seeking CLE credit is $25 and includes lunch; for others, it is $10 for the program and lunch or free to the public without lunch. For more information, contact Kathy Baughman at 865-545-5301 or email kathy.baughman@LMUnet.edu.
Additionally, a visual art installation will be on display compliments of the Law and Fine Arts Society. Following the symposium, a brief ceremony will be held to unveil a memorial garden on the grounds of the LMU Law building and a ceremonial planting of a red bud in honor of the Phi Alpha Delta Watson Jr. Chapter will take place. In honor of his long service to the Supreme Court of the United States, the first addition to the memorial garden will be dedicated in honor of Justice Antonin Scalia.