Howes v. Fields Docket # 10-680

Natalie Sanchez

My case was Howes v. Fields. It dealer with a young man, Randel Lee Fields, who was imprisoned for a crime that he admitted to have committed. "How could he have ratted himself out like that?" you might be asking yourself. The answer is that he was not read his miranda rights before interrogation. Here's the whole story.  Fields was under custody for disorderly conduct in Lenawee County Sheriff’s Department. On December 23, 2001, Field was escorted form his cell to a conference room by a police guard without handcuffs. Once there, officers Deputy David Batterson and Deputy Dale Sharp began to question him. Fields continued to tell the guards that he did not want to speak with them at that moment, but the guards continued to question him. They told Fields that he was welcome to leave if he wanted. In the end, Field was interrogated for seven hours and told the officers about his sexual relations with a minor. During those seven hours of interrogation, Fields was not read his miranda rights. 

For those of you who do not know, miranda rights are the set of entitlements that must be read to someone before are incarcerated or before are taken into an interrogation. These rights state, “You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say will be used against you in a court of law.  You have the right to an attorney during interrogation; if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.”  The Miranda rights are connected to the constitution in that they give the suspect a chance to clear his or her name by pleading the fifth ammendment (or, in other words, keeping their mouths shut). Because he was not read his miranda warning, Fields told the police officers what he did, hence, the Michigan court of appeals charged him with two counts of third degree sexual conduct and was given a term of ten to fifteen years in prison. The Questions in hand are as follows: Was Field's second sentence constitutional? Was the Michigan Court of Appeal’s decision against or in agreement with federal law? More importantly, "
Does federal law automatically require Miranda warnings before questioning jail or prison inmates about issues unrelated to the cases for which they were incarcerated?" This is what congress was debating on October 4, 2011. They wanted to determine whether or not miranda rights should be read to prisoners even when they are being interrogated about a different crime than the one that got them in jail in the first place. 

Now there are two ways to look at this case. You could either justify Field's second jail sentence or deem it unlawful. The side that the Michigan Court of Appeals took was the one that justified Field's second sentence. They argue that 1. Field was under custody for another crime, 2. he was not wearing handcuffs when he was interrogated by the officers, 3. he was interrogated in a conference room, and 4. he was told that he could leave the room whenever he wanted to. Because of these small details,the Miranda rights were not necessary for this case scenario, according to the Michigan Court of Appeals. The other side argues that Miranda rights were created in order to give a suspect the chance to clear his name by not speaking about his or her acts during an interrogation. They argue that the person must be in custody in order to receive their miranda warning; Fields was in custody. Fields also stated that he was treated harshly during the impromptu interrogation, as one of the deputies used intimidation to get him to talk about his offense. The people who think that Field was treated unjustly argue that 1. a suspect in custody should be read their miranda rights, as anything they say can be used against them, 2. that this should happen regardless of what crime the criminal is going to be asked about, and 3. this is the only way that the miranda warning could serve its full purpose. I think that Field's sentence is going to be lifted-his sentence will be deemed unconstitutional. 

I feel like, though he was being asked about another crime he committed, he was tricked into giving information to the officers in a very unlawful way. The fair thing would have been to read Fields his miranda rights so that he would have been given a heads up that he was going to court and that what he was going to say to the officers would be used against him. I feel like Fields was treated unfairly and that he will soon receive justice.