Silence As Guilt

Court: suspect's silence inadmissible as evidence of guilt

The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that prosecutors may not introduce a suspect's request for an attorney as evidence of the person's guilt. The court ruled unanimously in Columbus today in favor of a Hamilton County man convicted of attempted rape following a 2001 attack on two women at a friend's house. The issue involved suspects who refuse to talk or ask for a lawyer before being taken into custody and read their rights. The decision upholds a lower court's decision to order a new trial for Thomas Leach, who argued that presenting the evidence implies guilt. Prosecutors said jurors should be able to weigh the silence along with other factors. But Justice Evelyn Stratton says presenting this evidence violates constitutional protections against self-incrimination.