Michigan v. Tanner (Opinion - Leave Granted)Annotate this Case
George Tanner was charged with open murder and mutilation of a dead body. After his arrest, he was taken to jail and read his Miranda rights. Defendant invoked his right to counsel and questioning ceased. The next day, while speaking with a jail psychologist, defendant stated that he wanted to “get something off of his chest.” The psychologist informed jail staff of defendant’s request. The jail administrator then spoke with defendant. Defendant told the administrator that he wanted to speak with someone about his case and asked if the administrator could obtain an attorney for him. The administrator stated that he could not provide an attorney for defendant, but could contact the police officers who were handling the case. The administrator then contacted both the police and the prosecutor. The prosecutor apparently informed the court of defendant’s request for an attorney, and the court sent an attorney to the jail. After the attorney and the police officers arrived at the jail, the jail administrator took the police officers to speak with defendant and asked the attorney to wait in the jail lobby while the officers determined defendant’s intentions. Defendant was again read his Miranda rights, which he waived without again requesting an attorney and without being made aware of the attorney’s presence at the jail. Defendant then made incriminating statements concerning his involvement in the murder. Defense counsel moved to suppress the statements, and the court granted the motion. The prosecution sought leave to appeal. The Court of Appeals denied the application. The issue this case presented to the Supreme Court was whether the rule announced in "Michigan v Bender," (551 NW2d 71 (1996)), should have been maintained. Bender required police officers to promptly inform a suspect facing custodial interrogation that an attorney is available when that attorney attempts to contact the suspect. If the officers failed to do so, any statements made by the suspect, including voluntary statements given by the suspect with full knowledge of his Miranda rights, are rendered inadmissible. The Supreme Court respectfully concluded Bender was wrongly decided and that it should have been overruled. The Court reversed the trial court’s suppression of certain incriminating statements made by defendant, which was justified solely on the grounds of Bender, and remanded the case to the trial court for further proceedings.