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The judicially created Miranda protections require law enforcement officials to inform criminal suspects of their right to counsel prior to proceeding with custodial interrogation. In Commonwealth v. Sherman, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts considered whether a criminal defendant validly waived his right to counsel when a police officer failed to inform him that an attorney, appointed to represent him in an unrelated case, had requested to be present during his interrogation. Concluding that, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, the defendant did not voluntarily waive his right to counsel, the court suppressed the defendant's in-custody statements to police. Commonwealth v. Sherman strengthens procedural safeguards in the early, but vital, stages of the criminal justice process. The Sherman court decisively balanced the delicate relationship of attorneys, police, and criminal suspects by supplying a standard of conduct, beyond mere formality and procedural aquiescence, to include an element of personal responsibility. Fully realizing that criminal defendants facing custodial interrogation cannot meaningfully exercise their right to counsel without knowing all salient information, the court took precautions to protect a criminal defendant's rights. Commonwealth v. Sherman thus succeeds in maintaining a symmetry between the conflicting interests of law enforcement institutions and individual rights.

Recommended Citation

18 Suffolk U.L. Rev. 99 (1984)