Questions Raised in Reading of Tsarnaev's Miranda Rights

Breitbart News reported earlier that a U.S. Magistrate, Marianne Bowler, was the official who read Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his Miranda rights, advising him, among other rights, that he had the right to remain silent and asking him if he wanted an attorney present before he was asked any more questions. Now it’s being reported that Magistrate Bowler showed up unannounced to read Tsarnaev his rights. 

Miranda rights are typically given by law enforcement officers or prosecutors, and federal judicial officers don’t just walk around at night looking for people to read rights to. Who told Bowler that Tsarnaev was in that room? He’s being held under heavy guard. Who asked her to go to the hospital? It’s extremely unlikely she just took this responsibility upon herself.

A federal magistrate is not a life-tenured federal judge. It is like an assistant judge, chosen for an eight-year term by the federal judges of a U.S. district court to handle “lesser” legal matters and other duties related to a case assigned by the federal district judge presiding over it. While they wield great power, they are typically mindful of their subordinate role to Article III federal judges and typically do not do these sorts of things spontaneously and of their own initiative.

So today’s news stories raise more questions than they answer. It seems far more likely that someone requested this magistrate visit Tsarnaev in the hospital to read him his rights, or that she was asked to appear at the hospital to observe a federal prosecutor or agent read Tsarnaev his rights.

Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and others are expressing serious concerns about these reports and are expected to press for answers from the Obama administration.

Breitbart News legal columnist Ken Klukowski is on faculty at Liberty University School of Law.  

Photo credit: WOWK 13 News


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