Constitutional Places: The Story of Ernesto Miranda

May 2nd, 2011

The blog of the Maricopa County Bar Association has a great piece about the history of Miranda v. Arizona, with a focus on Ernesto Miranda. Here is a taste:

Miranda started working nights as a driver and warehouseman at United Produce Co. at 3rd Street and Madison in the late summer of 1962. Before and after work and before heading home to his girlfriend and new baby in Mesa, he would hang out in the “Deuce.” The downtown area around 2nd Street that would later become Symphony Hall was renowned for its seedy flophouses, rough bars and generally openly illicit atmosphere. Only a few blocks to the west were the old Maricopa County Courthouse, the Phoenix Title and Trust Building and the Paramount Theatre.  All would play important parts in Miranda becoming a household name.

As a teenager, Miranda had been accused of the attempted rape of a married woman, was dishonorably discharged from the Army for being a “Peeping Tom,” and later served time in federal prison for transporting stolen vehicles across state lines. The young felon was about 5’ 9” and weighed around 170 pounds. He had dark curly hair, wore black-rimmed glasses and had a variety of tattoos, including a large naked woman on his right leg. One doctor diagnosed him as having a chronic, undifferentiated schizophrenic reaction and another described his condition as a sociopathic personality disturbance. In general, though, he was described as neat, clean, cooperative, and a little shy.

In the months after he was hired in the produce warehouse, Miranda was linked to several downtown purse snatchings, an armed robbery (purportedly using a fingernail file) and finally, the kidnapping and rape of an 18-year-old named Patricia.


For more on Miranda, please listen to this JoshCast I recorded with the Prosecutor who retried Miranda on remand from the Supreme Court.

H/T Jennifer Perkins