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Legal Issues in Criminal Justice Administration

Sean Bruner

TITLE AND CITATION

:

Garrity v. State of New Jersey

, 87 S. Ct. 616 (1967)

TYPE OF ACTION

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The United States Supreme Court reviewed and upheld the conviction of multiple police officers who were convicted of conspiracy to obstruct the administration of traffic law enforcement. The Supreme Court concluded that they revered the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling, citing that it violated the officer’s Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

FACTS OF THE CASE

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In 1961, Officer Edward Garrity and six additional officers were investigated concerning the alleged traffic ticket “fixing it.” Due to the nature of the allegations, The Attorney General of New Jersey was ordered to investigate their allegations. During such times, all officers, including Officer Garrity, were interviewed. Each officer was advised of their Miranda rights, that anything they say can and will be used against them in a criminal proceeding. In addition to their Miranda warning, if they refused to answer the questions in this matter and chose to remain silent, they were threatened that they might be terminated under the New Jersey Forfeiture-of-officer statute. As all officers feared their pending termination if they chose to remain silent, they cooperated and incriminated themselves, which resulted in criminal offense.

Once convicted, the officers appealed to the Supreme Court of New Jersey, stating that their admission of guilt was coerced by the threat of their law enforcement positions. Regardless, the State Supreme Court upheld the guilty verdict. Officers sought to appeal to The United States Supreme Court.

CONTENTIONS OF THE PARTIES:

Officer Garrity- Argued that the statements provided during their interview were coerced with a threat of employment termination. Furthermore, arguing that the statements recorded violated each officer’s Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment during such time.

New Jersey- Argued that the officers were advised of their rights before the interview and that they were not required to answer any questions asked. The warning was to inform them that their employment would be at risk if they remained silent.

ISSUE:

Does the threat of being terminated or confession constitute a form of coercion that violates the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments?

  
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