The rules arising out of Garrity v. New Jersey, 395 U.S. 493 (1967), have largely been a matter of court-made law. Under Garrity, when a public employer orders employees to answer questions, the employee’s statements and the fruits of the statements cannot be used in a subsequent criminal prosecution of the employee.
With a law effective January 1, 2007, the Michigan Legislature adopted the Garrity rule by a statute applicable to the State’s law enforcement officers. The statute, known as SB 647 in the Michigan Legislature, provides that “an involuntary statement made by a law enforcement officer, and any information derived from that involuntary statement, shall not be used against the law enforcement officer in a criminal proceeding.”
SB 647 goes even further than Garrity, and mandates that an involuntary statement “is a confidential communication that is not open to public inspection.” Exceptions to the confidentiality requirement exist where the officer consents to the disclosure of the document, to a prosecutor pursuant to a search warrant or other court order, and where the statement is used in the disciplinary process.
Note: Thanks to Christopher Luty of the Michigan State Police Troopers Association for bringing our attention to SB 647.
The article appears in our April 2007 issue.