In an interesting turn today, the Kentucky Supreme Court bid fellow Kentuckians a Happy Thanksgiving today by decisively recognizing or expanding at least two rights under Kentucky law beyond what the U.S. Supreme Court has had to say on the same topic.
New Rights for Kentuckians Subject to Police Interrogation
In the first turn, it seems the Court was not entirely impressed with the scope of existing rights under Miranda v. Arizona, and recognized that the Bill of Rights of the Kentucky Constitution may provide greater protections. Traditionally, a suspect must be in “custody” before he or she is entitled to have the traditional “Miranda” warnings read (everyone knows it– come on, all together. “you have the right to remain silent, Anything you say can be used against you . . . ” etc.) . Well, says the Kentucky Supreme Court in Baumia v. Commonwealth, that’s not everything the Kentucky Constitution says, because it prohibits “compelled” testimony against oneself. A person can indeed, be “compelled” by the government to give a statement, even when they are not in custody, per se. All the lawyers out there know what that means, so I won’t say any more.
Expanded Double Jeopardy Protection
In the other turn toward expanded state-law rights, the Court in Kiper v. Commonwealth, ruled that one can not be convicted of both Assault First Degree and Criminal Attempt Murder for the same shooting incident, at least under a set of facts like this case. Really, double jeopardy under the “Blockburger” rule is stuff only a lawyer could love, so I won’t go into the details of the rule. Suffice to say, the Court took a look at some of the protections against multiple convictions in the Kentucky Penal Code, and applied the brakes in areas the U.S. Supreme Court has not.
My self-absorbed commentary: it was not more than a month ago that I wrote an entry (here) about how so many state supreme courts shy away from recognizing the power of their own state law. In this instance, I confess I entirely misjudged the fine members of the high court of the Commonwealth.