EXPIRED: 04/26/10 – Harold Berliner, 86, had the right to remain silent, and now he finally is.

A former district attorney in California’s Nevada County, Berliner helped write and popularize the Miranda warning. Hopefully you’ve never heard it personally, except maybe while watching TV or movies. In 1966, Berliner joined other district attorneys to discuss how the police should implement a new rule issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in a case called Miranda vs. Arizona that ordered cops to inform suspects in custody of their 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.

California Attorney General Thomas Lynch asked Berliner and Deputy Attorney General Doris Maier to craft a quick and easy statement that officers could recite during arrests. Within 2 hours, they turned out what is believed to be the first written version of the Miranda warning, starting with 7 famous words: “You have the right to remain silent.”

Berliner  – who was also a publisher – made a little money on the side from all this. Knowing that cops might not be able to remember the entire thing, printed and sold wallet-size Miranda cheat-sheets to law enforcement agencies. This way there was no way the cops could get it wrong.



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