Is There a Right to Remain Silent?: Coercive Interrogation and the Fifth Amendment After 9/11

Alan M. Dershowitz, Author . Oxford Univ. $19.95 (212p) ISBN 978-0-19-530779-5

The prolific and opinionated Dershowitz (Rights from Wrongs ), public personality and Harvard law professor, is provocative and erudite in this treatise on the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, which in his view may become a victim of the war on terror as America slides toward preventing violent acts rather than deterring them with threat of punishment. Replete with trademark Dershowitz flourishes, quotes from a wide range of sources including Jewish law, Emily Dickinson and his own college term paper, this is a serious examination of the constitutional ramifications of an unheralded 2003 Supreme Court decision, Chavez v. Martinez, that could allow the coercion of testimony from interrogation subjects as long as the information isn't used against them in criminal prosecutions. Dershowitz is best at exploring the implications of this decision. His analysis is sometimes technical on the origin of the right to remain silent as well as its application to suspects, defendants and witnesses. Dershowitz believes current law is dangerously unsettled and, as such, an “anathema to democracy”; his conclusion is a measured but urgent call to fill the legal “black hole” that the narrow Chavez decision creates regarding a right we all take for granted. (May)

Reviewed on: 02/18/2008
Release date: 05/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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