THE CALIFORNIA State Court of Appeals may have made legal history. It overthrew the conviction of a man accused of a serious crime because the police had refused to let him speak to his mother. The court said that in asking to see his mother, the suspect was indicating his desire to remain silent.
In the past, under the Miranda Ruling, a person only had a right to ask to talk with his lawyer.
If the Supreme Court upholds the decision, many suspects might ask to talk to their mothers. But then again many may not.
Let's see why.
"Okay, Lefty. We caught you in the bank at three in the morning, with your burglary tools. We'll make it easy on you if you confess."
"I want to see my mother."
"Ah, come on, Lefty. Don't give us that. Just tell us how you did it."
"I know my legal rights. Under Miranda, I'm entitled to talk to my mother before I say anything."
"He's right, boys. Get his mother."
Three hours later.
"Lefty, your mother's here."
"Archibald, what are you doing here? You were supposed to come to my house for dinner tonight."
"These guys busted me for allegedly breaking into a bank."
"It depends on how much bail money you have on you."
"Archibald, I'm very angry. I cooked a nice chicken dinner with mashed potatoes -- just the way you like them -- and baked your favorite mince pie with walnuts on top. You haven't been to dinner for a month."
"Mom, I've been busy."
"Is breaking into banks more important than seeing your mother?"
"Will you stop, already? I spoke to you on the phone last week after they picked me up for allegedly stealing a car."
"Phone calls don't count. I want to see your face. You said you'd come last Friday."
"The guys and I had to open a jewelry store. It took much longer than we thought."
"It's always the guys. When I was sick in bed last year with the flu, did I get so much as a visit?"
"That's history, Mom. I was in San Quentin then. Was I supposed to fly over the walls?"
"A good son would have found the time. I knew once you left the house you'd forget me."
"Why do you keep bugging me? Do you realize that when they grabbed me, you were the only person I wanted to see? That says something, doesn't it?"
"Yes, but the only time you ask to see me is when you get arrested. It would be nice if you would ask to see your mother without taking advantage of the Miranda ruling. Maybe if you settled down with a nice girl, then I could see you in your home instead of the slammer. Of course, your wife would probably be ashamed to invite me to your house."
"If I was married, Mom, I assure you we'd invite you over to our place. Can't we just have a nice talk?"
"You don't look as if you're brushing your teeth. Maybe I should make an appointment for you with Dr. Berman, the dentist -- just for your peace of mind."
"Okay, Mom, I guess our time is up. I enjoyed the visit."
"You call this a visit! The woman at the Information Desk in Macy's gives me more time."
"Goodbye, Mom -- Detective, I'm ready to talk."
"I thought so."
"What made you so sure?"
"Ever since the new Miranda Ruling, most guys, after one visit, would rather talk to us than their mothers."