Orozco v. Texas

394 U.S. 324

Case Year: 1969

Case Ruling: 6-2, Reversed

Opinion Justice: Black

More Information

Concurring Opinions

Dissenting Opinions

Court Opinion Joiner(s):

Brennan, Douglas, Harlan, Marshall, Warren


1st Concurring Opinion

Author: Harlan


1st Dissenting Opinion

Author: Stewart


2nd Concurring Opinion



2nd Dissenting Opinion

Author: White


3rd Concurring Opinion



3rd Dissenting Opinion



Other Concurring Opinions:


On January 5, 1966, Reyes Arias Orozco and a female companion, Joanne Parris, went to the El Farleto Café in Dallas, Texas. During the evening, John Hugh Elliott approached Orozco's girlfriend, and Orozco objected. The two argued, and later there was a confrontation in the parking lot. Elliott beat Orozco about the face and called him "Mexican Grease." Orozco pulled a gun and fired, killing the other man. Immediately after the incident, Orozco returned to his boardinghouse and went to bed. At about 4:00 A.M. four police officers arrived at the boardinghouse. An unidentified female admitted them and told them that Orozco was asleep in his room. The officers entered Orozco's room and began questioning him. They later explained at trial that they were not about to let Orozco go, and that they had informed him that he was under arrest. Orozco admitted that he had been at the El Farleto Café earlier. Upon additional questioning, he told police that he owned a gun and that he had hidden it in the boardinghouse washing machine. Police retrieved the weapon. Ballistics tests confirmed that it was the same gun used in the killing.

Orozco's trial was held after the effective date of the Supreme Court's ruling in Miranda v. Arizona (1966). Over objections by the defense, the trial court judge allowed testimony about Orozco's statements made the night the police visited his boardinghouse. Orozco was convicted of murder without malice and sentenced to not less than two or more than ten years in prison. He appealed his conviction on the grounds that he had not been informed of his rights prior to his interrogation.



... The trial testimony clearly shows that the officers questioned petitioner about incriminating facts without first informing him of his right to remain silent, his right to have the advice of a lawyer before making any statement, and his right to have a lawyer appointed to assist him if he could not afford to hire one. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held, with one judge dissenting, that the admission of testimony concerning the statements petitioner had made without the above warnings was not precluded by Miranda. We disagree and hold that the use of these admissions obtained in the absence of the required warnings was a flat violation of the Self-Incrimination Clause of the Fifth Amendment as construed in Miranda.

The State has argued here that since petitioner was interrogated on his own bed, in familiar surroundings, ourMirandaholding should not apply. It is true that the Court did say in Miranda that "compulsion to speak in the isolated setting of the police station may well be greater than in courts or other official investigations, where there are often impartial observers to guard against intimidation or trickery." But the opinion iterated and reiterated the absolute necessity for officers interrogating people "in custody" to give the described warnings.... According to the officer's testimony, petitioner was under arrest and not free to leave when he was questioned in his bedroom in the early hours of the morning. The Miranda opinion declared that the warnings were required when the person being interrogated was "in custody at the station or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way." The decision of this Court inMirandawas reached after careful consideration and lengthy opinions were announced by both the majority and dissenting Justices. There is no need to canvass those arguments again. We do not, as the dissent implies, expand or extend to the slightest extent our Miranda decision. We do adhere to our well-considered holding in that case and therefore reverse the conviction below.



The passage of time has not made the Miranda case any more palatable to me than it was when the case was decided....

Yet, despite my strong inclination to join in the dissent of my Brother WHITE, I can find no acceptable avenue of escape from Miranda in judging this case, especially in light of Mathis v. United States (1968), which has already extended theMiranda rules beyond the police station, over the protest of JUSTICE STEWART, WHITE, and myself. Therefore, and purely out of respect for stare decisis, I reluctantly feel compelled to acquiesce in today's decision of the Court, at the same time observing that the constitutional condemnation of this perfectly understandable, sensible, proper, and indeed commendable piece of police work highlights the unsoundness of Miranda.


This decision carries the rule of Miranda v. Arizona (1966), to a new and unwarranted extreme. I continue to believe that the original rule amounted to a "constitutional straitjacket" on law enforcement which was justified neither by the words or history of the Constitution, nor by any reasonable view of the likely benefits of the rule as against its disadvantages. Even accepting Miranda, the Court extends the rule here and draws the straitjacket even tighter....

I cannot accept the dilution of the custody requirements of Miranda to this level, where the hazards to the right to silence are so equivocal and unsupported by experience in a recurring number of cases. Orozco was apprehended in the most familiar quarters, the questioning was brief, and no admissions were made which were not backed up by other evidence. This case does not involve the confession of an innocent man, or even of a guilty man from whom a confession has been wrung by physical abuse or the modern psychological methods discussed in Miranda. These are simply the terse remarks of a man who has been caught, almost in the act. Even if there were reason to encourage suspects to consult lawyers to tell them to be silent before quizzing at the station house, there is no reason why police in the field should have to preface every casual question of a suspect with the full panoply of Miranda warnings. The same danger of coercion is simply not present in such circumstances, and the answers to the questions may as often clear a suspect as help convict him. If theMirandawarnings have their intended effect, and the police are able to get no answers from suspects, innocent or guilty, without arresting them, then a great many more innocent men will be making unnecessary trips to the station house. Ultimately it may be necessary to arrest a man, bring him to the police station, and provide a lawyer, just to discover his name. Even if the man is innocent the process will be an unpleasant one. Since the Court's extension of Miranda's rule takes it into territory where even what rationale there originally was disappears, I dissent.


Although there is much to be said for MR. JUSTICE HARLAN's position, I join my Brother WHITE in dissent. It seems to me that those of us who dissented in Miranda v. Arizona remain free not only to express our continuing disagreement with that decision, but also to oppose any broadening of its impact.