If you cannot afford a lawyer…

How many times have we heard that famous phrase, as some perp is bundled into the back of the squad car. The list of rights given out to suspects in the U.S. is known the Miranda warning.

Although the Miranda case specifically referred to the right to remain silent, access to free legal aid is bundled in there too.

The classic format goes like this:

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights?

For years I had assumed that the name Miranda surely arrived from some little girl who was the innocent victim of a horrific crime. Something like Megan's Law, Jenny's Law, Madison's Law, Laela's Law or Jessica's Law etc (all real, look 'em up yourself if you're bothered).

Wrong.

Ernesto Miranda, for whom the warning is named, was a kidnapper, voyeur, burglar and rapist who challenged the supreme court regarding his right to silence–of which he hadn't known at the time of his arrest. It's guranteed by the Fifth Amendment which protects you from self-incrimination.

Ernesto felt he should have been told of this right by the police; the supreme court agreed with him. His confession was disregarded and the case against him collapsed. However, he was later convicted on different evidence.

Miranda died in a stabbing incident in 1976. With an all too typical dose of irony, his killer remained uncooperative using his 'right to remain silent' just long enough to escape to Mexico.

So do we have Miranda Rights here? Why, certainly!

You've probably heard that Bertie is getting another dig-out, this time from us. Because the Mahon tribunal asked him some questions.

Mr Ahern's bill for €435,291 covers the period up to 2002 only, and is likely to be dwarfed by the bills he will submit for his more recent and protracted entanglement with the inquiry.

Of course you have the right to point out that Bertie has not been found guilty of any wrongdoing. May I respectfully request that you take that up over at Bock's place.

Because I take the Fifth.

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