The Lawletter Vol. 48 No. 1
Accused of sexually assaulting a patient while working as a certified nursing assistant, Terence Tekoh was interrogated “at length” by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Deputy. Vega v. Tekoh, 142 S. Ct. 2095, 2099, 213 L. Ed. 2d 479, 485 (2022). While the Deputy ultimately secured a written statement from Tekoh apologizing for inappropriate touching of a patient, the Deputy had failed to inform Tekoh of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1966). Vega, 142 S. Ct. at 2099-2100. Following a mistrial, Tekoh was acquitted at the conclusion of his second trial. Id. at 2100. In both criminal trials, judges refused to suppress the un-Mirandized statement. Id.
Following his acquittal, Tekoh brought suit against the Deputy and other defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violation of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Id. An improper jury instruction led to a second trial in the civil action at which Tekoh requested the jury be instructed that it was “required to find that Vega violated the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination if it determined that he took a statement from Tekoh in violation of Miranda and that the statement was then improperly used against Tekoh at his criminal trial.” Id. The trial court refused the request, holding that Miranda establishes a mere prophylactic rule that could not, standing alone, provide a ground for § 1983 liability. Id. A panel of the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that “Dickerson [v. United States, 530 U.S. 428, 120 S. Ct. 2326, 147 L. Ed. 2d 405 (2000)] made clear that the right of a criminal defendant against having an un-Mirandized statement introduced in the prosecution's case in chief is indeed a right secured by the Constitution.” Tekoh v. County of Los Angeles, 985 F.3d 713, 720 (9th Cir. 2021).Read More