Thursday, May 5, 2011

Heidi Jones' lawyer claims her Constitutional rights were violated

Heidi Jones, the former TV weathercaster charged with making false rape claims (we've covered her story extensively here: could go free after prosecutors admitted Wednesday that she was questioned by cops without being read her rights.

"The District Attorney has now confirmed no Miranda warnings were ever given to Heidi Jones," defense lawyer Paul Callan said. Manhattan prosecutors admit in legal papers that Jones was never read the Miranda warning, but insist it's a non-issue because she was not under arrest. "The defendant was not in custody at the time her statements were made," Assistant District Attorney Shanda Strain wrote in court papers. "Miranda warnings were not required and the statements taken [from] the defendant was lawfully obtained."  Prosecutors also said the statements were given "in the context of a criminal investigation she initiated."

Without the benefit of reading the legal papers filed in court and researching the issue, I will not venture an opinion regarding the correct legal outcome.  But let's make two general points:

(1) Just as no civilized person wants to see a rapist get away with rape, no civilized person wants to see a false rape accuser get away with lying to police about a matter so serious. After all, if we insist on treating rape as a serious crime, we must also insist that when the power to cry rape is abused, it must punished as a serious crime.

(2) If Ms. Jones' Constitutional rights were violated (and I am not saying they were), and if there is no good case without self-incriminating statements unlawfully obtained, then the case must be dismissed. Excluding evidence, and letting people accused of a crime go free because they were deprived of their Constitutional rights are sometimes necessary.  The Miranda warning isn't some procedural loophole concocted for the benefit of criminals. It is a crucial protection devised to safeguard the innocent. It was devised to insure that a self-incriminatory statement was made as a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver of bedrock Constitutional rights. This prophylactic device must be fairly applied to everyone, even to people who seem likely guilty.

Source regarding Ms. Jones: t