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Family Court celebrates the Miranda Warning at Law Day event

May 9, 2016 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Kings County Family Court’s Law Day theme this year was “Miranda: More Than Words,” during its annual event last Tuesday. Pictured from left: Hon. Amanda E. White, supervising judge of the Kings County Family Court; Hon. Alan Beckoff; and Hon. Jeanette Ruiz, administrative judge of the New York City Family Court. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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The Family Court held its annual Law Day event themed “Miranda: More Than Words” on May 3 at the courthouse in Downtown Brooklyn, where Professor Randy A. Hertz gave the keynote address and five court employees were honored.

The Miranda warning, also known as Miranda rights, is the right-to-silence warning that suspects are informed of prior to being interrogated to preserve the admissibility of their statements against them. It is the result of the 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona.

“Unlike many of the other ordinary people whose names have been attached to Supreme Court cases, Ernesto Miranda was the first one whose name became a noun and a verb,” said Hon. Alan Beckoff, chair of the Law Day Committee.

After Clerk of Court Robert Ratanski and Deputy Clerk of Court John Coakley welcomed everyone to the event, Hon. Alan Beckoff spoke and gave a brief history of the Miranda Warning. He explained that the warnings, as we know them today, came from the District Attorney of Nevada County Howard Leventhal, who thought up the words, had them printed, laminated and sold them across the country to police departments. Beckoff also noted that the TV show “Dragnet” may have helped in making the warning so famous.

“When ‘Dragnet’ returned to the air in 1967, the year after the Miranda decision, Jack Webb, who wrote, directed and starred in the show and was a stickler for authenticity, had Sgt. Friday pull that little card out of his breast pocket, and you could recite along with him, ‘You have the right to remain silent,’” Beckoff said. “It’s hard to know whether art was imitating life or vice versa, but those warnings got embedded in our consciousness and became a part of our vernacular.”

Professor Hertz, of New York University School of Law, further elaborated on Judge Beckoff’s lesson; he explained the history leading up to the case Miranda v. Arizona, and noted that the U.S. Supreme Court was having difficulty with false confessions and the ruling was a way to combat the issue.

Hertz went on to explain that the Miranda warnings have not been as effective as hoped and explained that false confessions continue to be a problem, especially when young people are involved. He suggested that the laws should be strengthened, particularly when it comes to children.

“We can do better,” Hertz said. “So as my parting words, I ask you to do whatever you can to seek reforms in this area and to do whatever you can to prevent false confessions.”

Following the speeches, Yvones Ramirez was presented with the Probation Recognition Award by Nodean Scott, supervisor of the Juvenile Operations, NYC Department of Probation. Beckoff returned to the podium to recognize Justin Chan, a high school student at the Urban Assembly School for Law and Justice, for his winning Law Day essay.

The event ended with five court employees being recognized with the annual Employee Recognition Awards, including Kathy Allen, senior court clerk; Anabel Ortiz, senior court clerk; Saleem Abdus-Sabur, court officer; Fernando Velasquez, court interpreter; and Mariana Allen-Nurse, court interpreter.

“Congratulations to all of our award recipients,” said Hon. Amanda E. White. “Across the board, you are all providing excellent service. It makes me proud to be here in this room while you are being recognized by the court system. This is well deserved.”


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