Jailhouse Informant Case

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In recent times there has been a major debate over whether law enforcement should be able to use jailhouse informants. The controversy sparked after the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s use of jailhouse informants was called into question. Many people feel that the use of informants in cases against those accused of various crimes is a violation of their Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. In regards to this topic, The Fifth Amendment protects people from self-incrimination, meaning that those accused of a crime have a right to remain silent. The Sixth Amendment, ensures that anyone accused of a crime has the right to an attorney, if a defendant cannot afford an attorney one will be provided.…show more content…
United States (1964). The accused, Winston Massiah was arrested on federal narcotics charges after he had been found to be in possession of narcotics and working to import and sell the narcotics aboard a United States vessel to which he worked upon. Upon his arrest he obtained an attorney, plead not guilty to the narcotics charges and was released on bail. Jesse Colson, another man facing similar charges, after agreeing to cooperate with the authorities, worked to help authorities and lessen his charges. Colson aided federal law enforcement by obtaining incriminating statements from Massiah through the aid of a recording device. As Colson and Massiah sat in Colson’s car they began to discuss matters of the case, to which Massiah made several incriminating statements, that Colson later testified in Massiah’s trial to. Unfortunately for Massiah, those statements were allowed to be used against him in his trial, despite his attorney’s objections. The case was then taken to the Court of Appeals to which they affirmed the conviction and the use of incriminating evidence. However, when the case reached the United States Supreme Court found that the nature in which the evidence was obtained was indeed in violation of Massiah’s rights. The United States Supreme Court therefore reversed the conviction on the basis that his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights had been…show more content…
Fulminante (1991), Oreste Fulminante had been convicted of the murder of his step-daughter, Jeneane Hunt. Prior to his murder conviction, he had been arrested and incarcerated for another crime, not related to the murder of his step-daughter. While incarcerated, Fulminante befriended another inmate, Anthony Sarivola, who was also an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Upon direction from Sarivola’s FBI contact, Sarivola worked to see if he could find out more information regarding the allegations that Fulminante had killed his step-daughter. Sarivola later had a conversation with Fulminante regarding the rough treatment he had been receiving from other inmates and offered to protect him if he would tell him the truth about the murder of his step-daughter, Jeneane. This agreement caused Fulminante to confess to Sarivola that he had killed Jeneane and left her body in the desert. Later when Fulminante and Sarivola had been released, Sarivola’s fiancée picked up Fulminante, to which he instructed her not to return to his hometown because he killed a girl there. Fulminante was later charged with first-degree murder to which he was eventually sentenced to death for his crime. At appeal, the court ruled that the confession to Sarivola should have been suppressed due to coercion, through the threat of future abuse. While the court held that the confession to Sarivola should not have been used against him, ultimately it didn’t matter
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