OCTOBER TERM, 2002
certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit
No. 01-1444. Argued December 4, 2002—Decided May 27, 2003
While respondent Martinez was being treated for gunshot wounds received during an altercation with police, he was interrogated by petitioner Chavez, a patrol supervisor. Martinez admitted that he used heroin and had taken an officer's gun during the incident. At no point was Martinez given Miranda warnings. Although he was never charged with a crime, and his answers were never used against him in any criminal proceeding, Martinez filed a 42 U. S. C. § 1983 suit, maintaining, among other things, that Chavez's actions violated his Fifth Amendment right not to be "compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself," and his Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process right to be free from coercive questioning. The District Court ruled that Chavez was not entitled to qualified immunity, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed, finding that Chavez's coercive questioning violated Martinez's Fifth Amendment rights even though his statements were not used against him in a criminal proceeding, and that a police officer violates due process when he obtains a confession by coercive conduct, regardless of whether the confession is subsequently used at trial.
Held: The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded.
270 F. 3d 852, reversed and remanded.
Justice Thomas, joined by The Chief Justice, Justice O'Connor, and Justice Scalia, concluded in Part II-A that Chavez did not deprive Martinez of his Fifth Amendment rights. Pp. 766-773.
(a) An officer is entitled to qualified immunity if his alleged conduct did not violate a constitutional right. See Saucier v. Katz, 533 U. S. 194, 201. The text of the Fifth Amendment's Self-Incrimination Clause cannot support the Ninth Circuit's view that mere compulsive questioning violates the Constitution. A "criminal case" at the very least requires the initiation of legal proceedings, and police questioning does not constitute such a case. Statements compelled by police interrogation may not be used against a defendant in a criminal case, but it is not until such use that the Self-Incrimination Clause is violated, see United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U. S. 259, 264. Martinez was never made to be a "witness" against himself because his statements were never admitted as testimony against him in a criminal case. Nor wasPage: Index 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007