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  • Joseph A. Del Russo, JD

Professor Del Russo Reacts: “Right to Remain Silent”

There is a new movie about the decision in Miranda v. Arizona currently filming in New Jersey. “plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose”. (the more things change the more they stay the same). as i oft share w/ students, when the US Supreme Court pronounced the so-called “Miranda Warnings”, (“you have the right to remain silent…”), the reaction was swift and fierce. Criticized by constitutional scholars, police chiefs worldwide, and President Nixon himself— who threatened to pack the courts, things eventually settled down. and in a fascinating exposition of human behavior – – persons accused of crimes did not stop talking. Directly told that they had the “right to remain silent”” and their words could convict them – – nearly everyone continues to talk. Most think they can “beat the wheel”, talk their way out of it, influence the outcome. They nearly all fail. when I teach this principal I am often reminded of Judge Coruzzi from South Jersey. The judge was “selling” probationary sentences. Eventually everything fell apart and the Judge was arrested in a controlled transaction monitored by scores of New Jersey State Police in the parking lot of a South Jersey Cadillac dealer. As he was being confronted by law enforcement, the Criminal Division judge did not rely on his Miranda warnings. Instead he spoke willingly and explained that a “crazy man had placed money [$12,000.00] inside his sport coat pocket” and took off in a car.  If it wasn’t true, it would be considered wildly implausible. But it really happened in a Mt. Laurel, NJ Caddy Dealer’s parking lot! Going to be an interesting film, I hope they do it justice.

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