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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 10, 2003

MEDIA ADVISORY: Patane Supreme Court Case Brief Author Available For Interviews

James Tomkovicz, a professor of law at the University of Iowa and the author of an amicus curiae brief in the Supreme Court case United States v. Patane, is available for media interviews about the case.

The case is scheduled to be argued before the Court on Tuesday, Dec. 9.

Tomkovicz is an expert on issues of constitutional criminal procedure, including those raised by the Patane case. Tomkovicz was enlisted to write the brief by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the American Civil Liberties Union and the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice. He specializes in both criminal law and criminal procedure and has written widely in those fields. His book, "The Right to the Assistance of Counsel: A Reference Guide to the U.S. Constitution," was recently published.

In the Patane case, the defendant was accused and convicted of having a gun in violation of federal law that prohibits convicted felons from possessing firearms. Police had discovered the gun after Patane told them where it was in his home in response to a specific inquiry about the weapon. Although a detective had begun to read him his Miranda rights before the questioning began, Patane interrupted him and told him he knew the rights already. At issue is whether the gun is admissible in court. The government, conceding that Patane was not properly made aware of his Miranda rights, believes that while his verbal admission is inadmissible in court, the product of that statement-the gun-should not be excluded from trial.

According to his brief, Tomkovicz believes evidence should be suppressed unless the connection between a Miranda violation and the discovery of the evidence is weakened by the passage of time or intervening events. When the connection is close, as in the Patane case, Tomkovicz contends that Miranda requires suppression of "derivative evidence."

This is the fourth Supreme Court case in which Tomkovicz has authored and filed a friend of the court brief. Two terms ago, he supported the prevailing side in Kyllo v. United States, a case that led to the ruling that law enforcement use of a thermal imager on a private home is a search. He was involved earlier in an Iowa case that reached the Court. In Knowles v. Iowa, the Court ruled that officers do not have the authority to search a vehicle simply because they have cited a driver for a traffic infraction.

Tomkovicz is a visiting professor this fall at UCLA and can be reached at 310-825-5384. He can also be reached via email at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,