Teacher Answer Key
CLASSIFYING ARGUMENTS IN THE ALVARADO CASE
The following is a list of arguments in the Yarborough, Warden v. Alvarado court case. Read through each argument and decide which side of the argument it supports, if any.
You may find it helpful to refer to Handout #3: Miranda v. Arizona (1966) and Related Precedent Cases.
TEACHER NOTES: Some of these answers are debatable. Engage students in why they drew the conclusions they did to draw out their reasoning skills.
- Mark a "Y" if the argument supports Yarborough, Warden's side -- that Alvarado was not in "custody" when he was being questioned, so he was not entitled to be notified of his Miranda rights. (Police should not have to change their procedures when they interview juvenile suspects.)
- Mark an "A" if the argument supports Alvarado's side -- that a reasonable juvenile would not have felt free to leave and therefore was in custody and should have been advised of his Miranda rights.
- Mark "Both" if the argument supports both sides.
- Mark "N" if the argument supports neither side.
- __A__ The Supreme Court has already established the legal principle and precedent that juvenile suspects are, in general, more susceptible to police coercion than adults, so the police and courts should take a defendant's juvenile status into account when they evaluate procedures to ensure that confessions are made "voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently."
- __Y__ "This Court has often noted that one of the principle advantages of Miranda is that it provides police and courts with clear guidance about how custodial questioning must be conducted for statements to be admissible. This Court should not compromise the clarity and simplicity of Miranda now and start adding new rules depending on the age of the suspect in question. This would make it more difficult for police to determine when Miranda warnings are necessary."
- __Y__ Miranda warnings are only required when a defendant is in custody. The question is how restrictive the circumstances of the interview are, rather than on the suspect's perception of them.
- __A__ "Relevant Supreme Court precedents lead us to conclude that Alvarado's youth and inexperience with the police are simply too important to be ignored."
- __Y__ "The facts of this case make it clear that [Alvarado] was not in custody at the time of his interview. He was not handcuffed, arrested, or told he was not free to leave. In fact, he was told the interview would be brief and when the interview was over, he went home with his parents. Alvarado also testified at trial that the interview was a friendly conversation and was not confrontational or threatening."
- __A__ If a juvenile is more susceptible to police coercion during custodial interrogation, then the same juvenile is more susceptible to the impression that he is, in fact, in custody in the first place.
- __Y__ "For the [Ninth Circuit] Court to consider age was beyond the clear weight of Supreme Court precedent, therefore ... Alvarado's conviction on the basis of his testimony [should be] reinstated."
- __A__ What reasonable person, brought to a police station by his parents at police request, put in a small interrogation room, questioned for two solid hours, and confronted with claims that there is strong evidence that he participated in a serious crime, could have thought to himself, "Well, anytime I want to leave I can just get up and walk out?"