"Multiple Miranda Decision"
- How crazy can this world get? This article will be extremely interesting
for our criminal defense associates.
LAW OF THE LAND
Judge's strange 'split' decision means extra warnings for other
Posted: January 9, 2003
1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2003 WorldNetDaily.com
"You have the right to remain silent ... and so do you, and you, and you."
That's what police could be reciting from now on in the wake of a unique
court ruling from the same Montana county that dealt with Unabomber Ted
A judge there has decided that once is not enough when it comes to Miranda
warnings for criminal suspects who have multiple personalities.
"That's absurd!" Richard Ackerman of the United States Justice Foundation
told WorldNetDaily. "The judiciary that issued this ruling is as crazy as
the person who proceeded with the claim in the first place."
The decision comes in the case of Tessa Haley, a Helena woman accused of
stabbing her longtime roommate last year.
At the time of her arrest, Haley reportedly made several statements
implicating herself, but District Judge Thomas Honzel tossed them out,
saying the damaging remarks presumably had been made by Haley's alternate
personality, who had not been given an additional advisement of her rights.
"If you use that as a precedent," Ackerman said, "then anyone with a remote
history of mental illness will use it to avoid criminal liability. It's just
crazy! Just crazy!"
Since 1966, police nationwide have been reading criminal suspects what is
known as a Miranda warning, advising them of their rights before
questioning. While having slight variations among law-enforcement agencies,
a typical version includes:
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used
against you in a court of law. You have the right to be speak to an
attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you
cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.
In the Montana case, as reported by the Helena Independent Record, court
documents reveal a bizarre scenario that unfolded in the early evening of
Police first got a call from a woman calling herself "Martha," who claimed
she had just stabbed another woman.
Upon arrival to the scene, officers found Haley, 58, working on her home
computer. She was wearing a surgical mask and her hands were stained with
She explained the mask was a guard against germs, but denied knowledge of
the emergency call, or of any person known as Martha.
Meanwhile, a local hospital phoned authorities to say it was treating a
woman suffering a two-inch stab wound and that the victim had positively
identified Haley as her assailant.
Police handcuffed Haley, read her the Miranda warning, and commenced a
search of the residence with the woman's permission.
When officers asked if she'd take a breath test for drug or alcohol
consumption, Haley said she should probably consult an attorney. So,
investigators halted their questioning.
According to police reports, a change in Haley's personality was then
noticed by an officer who says Haley began growling, demanding to know what
When asked if she knew the victim, the woman now identifying herself as
"Martha" said, "I stabbed her."
Before transporting Haley to jail, police brought her to St. Peter's
Hospital to check her mental status. It was there, according to court
records, that Haley recounted more events, including an admission she
couldn't consummate the killing since the victim had escaped.
Public Defender Randi Hood argued that none of the remarks made by "Martha"
should be admissible, as Haley had invoked her right to legal counsel.
"It is inconceivable that one personality could relinquish the right to have
an attorney present before questioning to the detriment of other
personalities," she wrote.
Hood also argued to strike similar statements made at the hospital, in spite
of objections by prosecutors, who said both Haley and her alter ego were
never forced by police to disclose anything.
Lewis and Clark County Attorney Leo Gallagher said Haley's admissions had
been spontaneous, as officers had stopped their interrogation and were
looking out for the suspect's well-being during the hospital run.
In the end, Judge Honzel decided the incriminating statements both at home
and the hospital should be suppressed.
Nonetheless, prosecutors don't appear devastated by the ruling.
"I can understand why the judge made his decision, and we'll try to work
around it and get some better evidence," Gallagher told the Independent
After WorldNetDaily informed Ackerman of the case specifics, the
California-based USJF attorney provided a more in-depth reaction.
"First, it is not the job of an arresting officer to diagnose a suspect for
possible and existent mental disorders," Ackerman said.
"Second, even if it were their duty, they have no duty to determine the
number of possible 'personalities' that they are about to arrest. A rational
approach to Miranda suggests that only one 'person' is being arrested. If,
in fact, the person is mentally ill, they have no concerns to begin with,
since insanity is a complete defense to an intentional crime. What's the
point in giving Miranda advisements if there is no assurance that a
'personality' hears it at all?
"This is just one more example of judicially created law resulting in absurd
results. Miranda is nowhere in the Constitution, and the Constitution does
not create a separate class of rights for each claimed personality of a
"This ruling places an incredibly onerous burden on an arresting officer,
and I am shocked that the county attorney has thrown up the white flag on
this one. Be assured that California's 'criminally insane' will be the first
to adopt a new family of personalities and hire a 'dream team' to bring an
ignorant face to each one."
The trial for Haley and "Martha" is slated to begin Jan. 21 on a charge
of attempted homicide, punishable by up to life in prison and a $50,000
fine. Bail has been set at $100,000.
With best regards, I remain...
Very truly yours,
Rus B. Robison
Rus B. Robison and Associates, Inc.
Post Office Box 720560
Oklahoma City, OK 73172-0560
(405) 721-2295 Voice
Oklahoma's FIRST State Licensed Private Investigation Agency (88PIA-1)
Serving all of Oklahoma and the Great Southwest since 1972.