In this Book

The Third Degree
summary
If you’ve ever seen an episode of Law and Order, you can probably recite your Miranda rights by heart. But you likely don’t know that these rights had their roots in the case of a young Chinese man accused of murdering three diplomats in Washington DC in 1919. A frantic search for clues and dogged interrogations by gumshoes erupted in sensational news and editorial coverage and intensified international pressure on the police to crack the case.

Part murder mystery, part courtroom drama, and part landmark legal case, The Third Degree is the true story of a young man’s abuse by the Washington police and an arduous, seven-year journey through the legal system that drew in Warren G. Harding, William Howard Taft, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John W. Davis, and J. Edgar Hoover. The ordeal culminated in a sweeping Supreme Court ruling penned by Justice Louis Brandeis that set the stage for the Miranda warning many years later. Scott D. Seligman argues that the importance of the case hinges not on the defendant’s guilt or innocence but on the imperative that a system that presumes one is innocent until proven guilty provides protections against coerced confessions.

Today, when the treatment of suspects between arrest and trial remains controversial, when bias against immigrants and minorities in law enforcement continues to deny them their rights, and when protecting individuals from compulsory self-incrimination is still an uphill battle, this century-old legal spellbinder is a cautionary tale that reminds us how we got where we are today and makes us wonder how far we have yet to go.

 

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Half Title, Title Page, Copyright, Accolades
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. List of Illustrations
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. xi-xiv
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  1. Dramatis Personae
  2. pp. xv-xx
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  1. Prologue: “The Best of Spirits Prevailed”
  2. pp. 1-2
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  1. 1. Three Men in a Tub
  2. pp. 3-5
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  1. 2. An Unwelcome Guest
  2. pp. 6-20
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  1. 3. Murder at the Mission
  2. pp. 21-31
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  1. 4. Incommunicado
  2. pp. 32-39
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  1. 5. Interrogation
  2. pp. 40-48
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  1. 6. Confession
  2. pp. 49-56
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  1. 7. Indictment and Trial
  2. pp. 57-72
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  1. 8. Appeal
  2. pp. 73-81
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  1. 9. The Third Degree
  2. pp. 82-90
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  1. 10. The Supreme Court
  2. pp. 91-108
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  1. 11. Retrial
  2. pp. 109-125
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  1. 12. Freedom
  2. pp. 126-132
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  1. 13. The Wickersham Report
  2. pp. 133-143
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  1. 14. The Road to Miranda
  2. pp. 144-152
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  1. Epilogue
  2. pp. 153-164
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  1. Chronology
  2. pp. 165-172
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. 173-174
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 175-190
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  1. Selected Bibliography
  2. pp. 191-194
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 195-201
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