It is Your Right to Remain Silent!

Celebrate Law Day in Franklin County at GCC
Law Day 2016 Explores the Right to Remain Silent

On May 1 the United States officially recognizes Law Day. It is meant to reflect on the role of law in the foundation of the country and to recognize its importance for society. Before President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared May 1 to be Law Day, U.S.A., the first day of May was known in some parts of the world as May Day: a day to remember the struggles of workers in their fight for better wages and working conditions. Celebrate on May 4th in Greenfield!

Why do the police “read citizens their rights” when arresting them? The practice of informing citizens of their right to remain silent stems from a U.S. Supreme court decision, the case Miranda vs. Arizona, in 1966. This court decision is in accordance with the idea that your rights are of no use to you if you don’t know what they are. Once informed of your right to remain silent, if you willingly choose to speak, you are waiving this right by choice. In doing so, you consent to the fact that your words may be used against you in court.

In the case of Ernesto Mirando’s arrest and interrogation, he provided a written confession without being informed of his right to counsel or the fact that the confession would be used against him in court. When prosecutors tried to use the confession in court, the defense argued that his confession was not truly “voluntary.” Miranda’s case was overturned and today, the recitation of rights which most of us are familiar with from the media, is known as a “Miranda warning.”

Your legal rights, such as the right to remain silent during a police interrogation, the right to speak to a lawyer, the right not to consent to unlawful searches of your belongings, anti-discrimination laws, and many more, are not any help to you if you don’t know what they are. The “know your rights” section of the American Civil Liberties Union provides useful information on the legal rights of certain groups of people, for example, pregnant workers, LGBT high school students, and deaf citizens. Unlike the right to remain silent, these rights are not as widely known and it is practical for citizens to educate themselves about laws which affect them personally.

Legal rights tend to originate from a specific court decision which sets a precedent for future cases. Investigating these court decisions can help you understand why a given new law exists, what it means, and the history behind the decision. For Annual Law Day 2016, The Franklin County Bar Association and the Northwestern District Attorney will be exploring Miranda vs. Arizona in detail at Greenfield Community College. This event is open to the public and will take place on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 from 9am-11am. For more information contact Christine Baronas at 413-773-9839. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)

About Law Day

Law Day is an annual commemoration first held in 1957 when American Bar Association President Charles Rhynes envisioned a special national day to mark our nation’s commitment to the rule of law. The following year, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued the first Law Day Proclamation. Law Day was made official in 1961 when Congress issued a joint resolution designating May 1 as the official date for celebrating Law Day.


Supporting Online Resources

Miranda and the Constitution

The Criminal Justice System & Racial Injustice

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