WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear Maryland’s request to expand the type of booking questions that can be asked before a suspect receives Miranda warnings.
The high court already exempts certain routine booking questions from Miranda requirements, such as information on a suspect’s name, address and other biographical information.
But Maryland Assistant Attorney General Gary E. Bair wrote that state prosecutors wanted the Supreme Court to expand that exemption to questions about a suspect’s drug use.
The state’s appeal stems from the 1993 arrest and subsequent drug-trafficking conviction of Michael Patron Hughes in Prince George’s County.
While in police custody and before receiving his Miranda warnings regarding self-incrimination, Hughes was asked as part of a standard police intake form whether he was an illegal drug user. Hughes said he was not.
That information was ultimately used against him by prosecutors who wanted to show that the cocaine found when he was arrested was not for personal consumption, but to be sold.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld the conviction, but the Court of Appeals overturned it.
In reversing the conviction, the court concluded that given the nature of the crime, police should have known that Hughes’ response about illegal drug use would be incriminating.
“The questions amounted to interrogation and the failure to advise Hughes of his Miranda rights before posting the question rendered Hughes’ answer inadmissable at trial,” the appellate court wrote.
The Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal without comment.