There’ve been a lot of good blog posts this week about the Berghuis v. Thompkins Supreme Court decision that (as Justice Sotomayor succinctly put it in her dissenting opinion) presumes that a person facing police interrogation has waived his or her fifth and sixth amendment rights unless that person explicitly informs the police (in language clear enough that a cop can understand it) that he or she is invoking those rights.
(I almost typed “would like to invoke those rights” up there, but based on the ruling, saying “I’d like to speak to an attorney” may be too ambiguous – do you mean right now, or just in general?)
This is offensive to me as a fan of the Constitution and the notion that a “right” is something that is inherent when dealing with the state, and not something that can be presumed waived unless explicitly stated otherwise. But, more fundamentally, this is offensive to me as a fan of basic logic: the idea that, in order to remain silent, one must speak is just weird.
I don’t like unsolvable logic problems, so I thought there ought to be an alternative to speaking in order to remain silent. So I drew this up:
It’s conveniently-sized to fit into your wallet. I went with a very basic, serif-y font and no background images, lest they confuse the interrogating officer into thinking that it’s still too ambiguous. (Is it still an invocation of your rights if it’s done in Comic Sans MS?)
Of course, if you’d rather find a satisfactory way to audibly invoke your rights in a direct and unambiguous manner, Connecticut criminal defense lawyer Norm Pattis has a few suggestions you can use, too.