1964 June 22

Escobedo: A Right to Counsel During Police Interrogations


Danny Escobedo was arrested and released on January 20, 1960, on suspicion of murder in Chicago. He was later rearrested and interrogated for 14½ hours, while repeatedly denied his request to speak with his attorney. His later conviction became the basis for the Supreme Court decision in Escobedo v. Illinois, decided on this day, holding that criminal suspects have a right to counsel during in-custody interrogations.

The decision built on the landmark right to counsel at trial decision, Gideon v. Wainwright, decided on March 18, 1963, and set the stage for an even more important decision in Miranda v. Arizona, on June 13, 1966, which famously held that the police have to inform a suspect of his or her right to an attorney before being questioned.

Justice Goldberg’s majority opinion: “. . . no system of criminal justice can, or should, survive if it comes to depend for its continued effectiveness on the citizens’ abdication through unawareness of their constitutional rights.”

Learn more about the history of the right to counsel: http://www.nlada.org/About/About_HistoryDefender

Listen to the oral argument in the case: http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1963/1963_615

Learn more about police misconduct: Samuel Walker and Carol Archbold, The New World of Police Accountability (2014)

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