This article addresses the issue of whether the Quarles public safety exception applies after a suspect invokes his Fifth Amendment right to counsel. Due to the lack of guidance in the Quarles opinion, lower courts have expressed confusion as to whether the public safety exception applies to Edwards. Several courts have extended the exception, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth and Ninth Circuits, while some state appellate courts have declined to do so. Part II of this article provides the requisite background for understanding Miranda's Fifth Amendment right to counsel, the Edwards rule, and the Quarles public safety exception. Section II.A of this article lays the foundation of the Fifth Amendment right to counsel enunciated in Miranda and its constitutionality addressed in Dickerson. Section II.B builds off of Miranda's right to counsel by explaining the Edwards rule, which requires police officers to cease custodial interrogation when a suspect unambiguously invokes his right to counsel. Section II.C considers the Quarles public safety exception to Miranda, which allows a police officer to intentionally violate Miranda by questioning a suspect in custody prior to administering Miranda warnings when there is an immediate danger to the public or the officers. Part III of this article addresses the current conflict between courts over whether the Quarles public safety exception applies to Edwards and divides the two competing approaches into the Extension Approach and the NonExtension Approach. Section III.A analyzes the Extension Approach and three cases in which courts have extended the exception. Section III.B analyzes the Non-Extension Approach and two cases in which courts have declined to extend the public safety exception. Given the Supreme Court's rulings in Edwards and Quarles, Part IV of this article endorses the view that the public safety exception, as narrowly constructed, should not be extended to situations where an accused has invoked his Fifth Amendment right to counsel. Thus, adhering to the rule announced in Edwards, when a court is confronted with this issue, any statement made after a suspect invokes his Fifth Amendment right to counsel is inadmissible, unless used only for impeachment purposes. This article concludes that this approach is not only consistent with current law, but also is substantiated by public-policy concerns.
Andrew T. Winkler,
Quarreling over Quarles: Limiting the Extension of the Public Safety Exception,
Rich. J.L. & Pub. Int.
Available at: https://scholarship.richmond.edu/jolpi/vol16/iss2/5