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Questioning a juvenile same as for adult, court says

By wire services
Published June 2, 2004

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court refused on Tuesday to require special treatment for young people under questioning by police, ruling narrowly against a 17-year-old interrogated for two hours without being told of his rights.

The case set the stage for the court's consideration this fall of the constitutionality of executing juvenile killers.

The justices voted 5-4 to reinstate a young man's murder conviction and said police have no obligation to treat younger suspects differently from adults under the 1966 Miranda vs. Arizona ruling that led to the warning that begins "You have the right to remain silent."

Police have to give warnings to people who are in custody. Warnings are not required if a suspect isn't under arrest and talks to police.

That's what police said Michael Alvarado did when his parents brought him to a California police station. The parents were forced to wait outside the interrogation room as their son gave incriminating statements later used to convict him of second-degree murder.

Police argued that Alvarado could have left the station. Four justices - John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer - said that because of his youth, he would not have understood that he could have walked out of the questioning.

Alvarado was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for his part in a 1995 murder at a shopping mall in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., during an attempted carjacking.

Court rejects newspaper appeal in libel case

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court refused Tuesday to consider a libel case that asked if business executives like those in recent corporate scandals are a type of "public figure" entitled to less privacy under the Constitution.

Justices rejected the appeal of a California newspaper that had been ordered to pay $2.5-million to a stockholder in the now-defunct Santa Barbara Savings and Loan.

The newspaper had argued that corporate leaders should be considered public figures who in order to receive damages must show that journalists acted with actual malice in their reporting.

[Last modified June 1, 2004, 23:55:20]

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