Professor Yale Kamisar
In the late 1950s, Kamisar struggled with criminal justice issues and the civil rights movement. At the time, legal topics like criminal procedure fell under a broader conversation about constitutional law. Kamisar saw few programs to teach young people about the justice system and the law and began his work at the University of Michigan in 1965.
For Kamisar, the criminal procedure was a vital part of the justice system that other legal experts, lawyers, and litigators seemed to ignore; following the constitution was more important than the fine print. So, Kamisar dedicated his career to shedding light on the importance of criminal procedure and civil liberties as a field of study and an integral part of the American justice system.
Supreme Court Justices and the country were taking stock of the system and found it lacking. Civil injustices were rampant, especially in the South, and there was a push for reform and recognition of marginalized groups. Kamisar’s work was cited in the 1963 Supreme Court Decision to grant the right to legal counsel in criminal cases.
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The Father of Miranda Rights
Then, in 1966, Kamisar’s most significant contribution to the justice system redefined criminal procedure. Professor Kamisar had written a comprehensive essay on the need for protection and the rights of the people. He argued that those accused of a crime should be informed before their trial, not after, and that neglecting to tell someone of their rights was directly opposed to the concept of justice.
Because of Kamisar’s influential work, criminal defendants were given the right to be informed of their rights before questioning, including their right to remain silent. Champion of the law, Chief Justice Warren, cited Kamisar’s essay in his decision and the professor was called the “father of Miranda.”
The rights read to people at the time of arrest are called Miranda rights, and they give the accused the power to remain silent and retain legal counsel to avoid self-incrimination. These rights are the foundation of our justice system today.
Popular Works and Final Contributions.
One part of his body of work covered the ethics around doctor-assisted suicide – a topic that was on the lips of every law student and media personality in the 1990s. Professor Kamisar argued that legalizing assisted suicide was a slippery slope that could eventually be turned on chronically ill and disabled patients.
Kamisar’s essays on the matter led to the charge against Dr. Jack Kevorkian, an assisted suicide advocate. Kamisar pointed out the history of euthanasia and the tricky legal ramifications of the unethical use of assisted suicide in the medical field.
Kamisar continued to write about the philosophical and ethical dilemmas that plagued the criminal justice system and continued to be highly influential among lawmakers, judges, lawyers, and students around the United States.
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A Legendary Advocate
Yale Kamisar was one of the most influential legal writers of the 20th century, and his work remains relevant today. His contributions to the study of criminal procedure and tenure at the University of Michigan made him a mentor to hundreds of students who would go on to change the world.
His most outstanding contribution, the Miranda Rights, are the focal point of countless criminal cases today. The Supreme Court continues to hear cases related to the rights of the accused and protections during the criminal process – a process that Kamisar began so many years ago.
If you are accused of a crime, you have rights under the law, including the right to an attorney. Contact White Law, PLLC today.
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