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Wednesday, December 20, 1995 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Suit: Police Snub Miranda Warning -- LAPD Said To Ignore Silence Right

Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES - In a lawsuit expected to be filed in federal court today, lawyers for the ACLU, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and others allege that the Los Angeles and Santa Monica police departments routinely violate the Miranda rights of suspects they arrest.

According to the complaint, the two departments' "actions corrode the panoply of rights belonging to a criminal suspect, destroy the ability of defense counsel to pursue a vigorous defense and injure the overall administration of criminal justice. Unless enjoined, the rights secured by Miranda will become elective at the will and whim of the . . . police departments."

Named as defendants in the complaint are Santa Monica Police Chief James Butts, Los Angeles Police Chief Willie L. Williams, four police officers and the cities of Santa Monica and Los Angeles. The plaintiffs seek a court order to bar the departments from continuing their interrogation practices and are asking for damages for two suspects who say they were illegally interrogated.

The U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Miranda case, decided in 1966 and formally known as Miranda vs. Arizona, established the requirement that police inform suspects of their rights to remain silent and to be represented by a lawyer. Under Miranda, police also were obligated to tell suspects that anything they say can be used against them in court.

But according to attorneys who prepared the lawsuit, officers routinely continue questioning suspects long after they have asked to speak with a lawyer.

Officials with the two departments said late yesterday that they had not yet seen the complaint and could not comment on its allegations.

Copyright (c) 1995 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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