Vanderbilt Law Review


Karl P. Warden

First Page



At this writing Miranda v. Arizona' is less than four months old. Although its place in the annals of leading constitutional decisions is assured, its meaning for, and influence upon, the criminal law process in the United States is not at all certain. It will require years of data accumulation and analysis to determine how profound an effect it will have and to evaluate that effect in terms of social impact. It is too soon to know whether the Miranda case has started a new revolution in the administration of criminal justice or has merely ended an old one. Is this the first loud cry of an ascent period of activism by the Supreme Court in the field of criminal law, or is it the "chant du cygne" of the old active phase? At the present time, only two things are clear. First, the old imaginary lines that sometimes separated confessions, and inculpatory and exculpatory statements have been erased; in their place stands a highly visible requirement that courts make inquiry into the import and effect of the environment in which an accused's statements were made. Second, the right to counsel under the sixth amendment and the privilege against self-incrimination under the fifth amendment are not isolated from each other, but rather are integral and integrated parts of the complex of fundamental rights secured to citizens accused of crime. The scope of this interrelation-ship is no more susceptible of being accurately measured at this time than is the Miranda case capable of being forced into narrow and well-delineated configurations. We must settle for thinner stuff. We can only ask questions and make tenative observations for we are but participant-observers in a new exploration through the jungles of crime and criminal law.