Skip to main content

Zach Miller

August 24, 2022

Vega v. Tekoh: Not the end of Miranda 

No, the Supreme Court Did Not Get Rid of Miranda.

The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Vega v. Tekoh has been widely and erroneously reported as the end of the Miranda protections for in-custody suspects. To actually read Tekoh and then report on the demise of Miranda is childlike and dishonest.

The issue in Tekoh concerns civil liability. Specifically, the question is whether violating one of the Miranda rules can form the basis for liability under Section 1983. The answer, the Supreme Court held, is “no” — an officer cannot be sued under Section 1983 for violating the Miranda rules.

Tekoh does not mean, as has been reported by some, that officers can now use physical force and threats during custodial interrogation and not be subject to civil liability. That is false. Besides the obvious state-law claims such a plaintiff would have (e.g., assault, battery). An officer engaging in such conduct could still easily be subjected to 1983 liability under the Fourteenth Amendment for a due process violation (i.e., conduct that “shocks the conscience”) and potentially under the Fourth Amendment for excessive force (in cases involving physical violence).

The primary remedy for violating the Miranda rules has always been and will continue to be the exclusion of evidence in a criminal trial. Evidence exclusion extends to the fruits of any Miranda violation as well. Tekoh did not affect the exclusionary rule aspect of Miranda.

Tekoh changes nothing for police procedures during custodial interrogation. All of the Miranda rules that applied last week apply today and moving forward.