November 4, 2021

Willkie served as pro bono counsel to criminal law and procedure professors across the United States in the brief.

Willkie filed an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Ethan Guillen’s petition for a writ of certiorari in Guillen v. United States, a case highlighting the importance of applying the appropriate analysis in determining whether a question-first, warn-later interrogation strategy violated an individual’s Miranda rights.

The brief, filed on behalf of 58 criminal law and procedure professors across the United States, addressed the lower court’s conflicting interpretations of Missouri v. Seibert and requested clarification of the proper test to be applied when an officer fails to notify an individual of their Miranda rights, obtains a confession, then Mirandizes the individual and obtains a second confession. The brief emphasized that strong Miranda protections are crucial, particularly for adolescents like 18-year-old Ethan Guillen who are susceptible to coercive interrogation tactics, like the question-first, warn-later strategy utilized by officers. The brief cited several studies, including one that showed that 49% of false confessions were from people under 21 years of age. The brief argued that the U.S. Supreme Court should grant certiorari because the lack of uniformity and consistency in deciding the admissibility of post-Miranda confessions has resulted in disparate and inequitable outcomes for individuals like Ethan Guillen.

The Willkie team is led by partner and counsel of record James C. Dugan. The team also included associates Alina Jamil Mian and Michelle Mlacker and law clerks Logan Kenney and Ellen Gardiner.

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