Getting Serious about Miranda in Minnesota: Criminal and Civil Sanctions for Failure to Respond to Requests for Counsel

C. Peter Erlinder, William Mitchell College of Law


This article reviews the history of Minnesota Statute section 481.10 and its interpretation by the Minnesota Supreme Court, which creates an "absolute duty" for law enforcement officers to respond to requests for counsel, and which imposes criminal and civil sanctions for violations. It analyzes Mullins v. Churchill and demonstrates that, even though the Court of Appeals was incorrect in holding that the Department of Corrections attorney access policies did not violate the requirements of Minnesota Statute section 481.10, the Court was absolutely correct in concluding that law enforcement officials in Minnesota are subject to separate and independent criminal and civil penalties under the statute. It compares the original statute ruled upon by the Court of Appeals with the language in recent amendments and demonstrates that, with the possible exception of the Department of Corrections, these penalties continue to apply to all law enforcement officials in Minnesota under the new provisions of 481.10. Finally, it examines Minnesota v. Jenson the case mentioned above involving an errant FBI agent, to illustrate how Minnesota Statute section 481.10 interacts with Miranda, Dickerson and the Minnesota Constitution/3 and demonstrates that the failure to prosecute the FBI agent and other law enforcement officials who violated the defendant's right to consult with counsel was a policy decision that is not supported by Minnesota law. The article concludes that the criminal and civil penalties imposed by Minnesota Statute section 481.10, combined with Minnesota Constitutional requirements that confessions be recorded to be admissible in court, provide the nation's most effective and comprehensive enforcement mechanism of Miranda and Dickerson that should serve as a model for other jurisdictions.