Miranda v. Arizona


On March 13, 1963, Ernesto Miranda was arrested on charges of kidnapping and rape. After 2 hours of interrogation, officers got a written confession. This confession was used as evidence at his trial even though Miranda had never been told that he did not have to talk to police or that he had the right to a lawyer. The jury found Miranda guilty.


The Supreme Court overturned Miranda’s conviction, ruling that his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination had been violated. The Court ruled that detained criminal suspects, prior to police questioning, must be told of their constitutional right to remain silent and to have an attorney. This is now called the Miranda Warning.


After the Supreme Court ruling, Miranda was retried by the State of Arizona. While his confession was not admitted at the second trial, he was again found guilty and sentenced to 20-30 years in prison.

In 1972,Miranda was released on parole after serving 11 years. After his release, he sold autographed Miranda Warning cards for $1.50.

On January 31, 1976, when Miranda was 35 years old, he was stabbed to death in an argument during a card game at La Amapola Bar in Phoenix.

A suspect in Miranda’s murder was arrested, but he chose to exercise his right to remain silent after being read his Miranda rights. The suspect was released, and is thought to have fled to Mexico. No one was ever charged with the murder.


1. You have the right to remain silent.

2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.

3. You have the right to talk to a lawyer and have him present with you while you are being questioned.

4. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you before any questioning if you wish.

5. You can decide at any time to exercise these rights and not answer any questions or make any statements.


Do you understand each of these rights I have explained to you? Having these right sin mind, do you wish to talk now?


Ghost Trial of the Century

The Estate of James Kidd

James Kidd was a gold prospector who came to Arizona in 1920. In 1949 he disappeared somewhere in the Superstition Mountains. Several years later, it was discovered that he had left a will, creating a trust, in a safety deposit box at the First National Bank of Arizona. The value of trust was worth $175,000 in 1964.


The only instruction left by Kidd was for the money to go to “research or some scientific proof of a soul of the human body which leaves at death.” He believed that modern photography would allow for scientists to capture the moment that the human spirit rises from a deceased person’s body.

When knowledge of the will became public, 134 different people and organizations fought for rights to the money, in what the New York Times called the “Ghost Trial of the Century.” Some individuals claimed that they were entitled to the money because they had seen a soul leave the body at death. For example, Emma Clausser stated that she participated in an experiment in Germany in 1937, where she momentarily died and witnessed her own soul leave her body.


In 1971, the Arizona Supreme Court finally ruled that the money would go to the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. A higher court overturned this decision and instead awarded the money to the American Society for Psychical Research.


Water Law in Arizona

"You could write the story of man’s growth in terms of his epic concerns with water."- Bernard Frank

 There may be nothing more important to the growth of Arizona than the ability to manage the meager amount of water available in the state. As a result, state courts have overseen a complex history of legal battles over water, many of which happened here in this courthouse. Some of the decisions over water law that were made here have been instrumental in the growth of the state and will continue to govern the regulation of Arizona’s water for future generations. 

Adams v. Salt River Water Users

Adams v. Salt River Water Users was a case filed in 1939 by a group of farmers against the Salt River Valley Water Users Association. The Association had been taking stream water that was meant to go to the farmers and delivering it to other members of the association while replacing the water that was meant to travel downstream to the farmers with pump water (pump water wasn ’t as desirable for irrigation as water from the stream). The farmers sued asking for a court order for their rightful water appropriation from the stream to be delivered to them. After a lengthy trial, this court found in favor of the defendants and their decision was upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court. The decision has been important in establishing community oversight and compromise in water management in the state. 

 Bristor v. Cheatham

 This case dealt with a plaintiff and defendant who shared an underground water supply between their properties. Bristor had been using the water for his personal water supply through a well, but the well dried up when Cheatham started withdrawing from the underground supply. Bristor thought he was entitled to a superior water right since he had established the first use of the groundwater, but in a decision made in this courthouse, and affirmed in the Arizona Supreme Court, ground water principles were reaffirmed and Cheatham was allowed to continue withdrawing groundwater as long as it was put to a reasonable, beneficial use.

 Maricopa County Municipal Water Conservation District No. 1 v. Southwest Cotton

 Originally heard in this courthouse, this case took years to decide and made its way all the way to the Arizona Supreme Court. At the time it heard the case, the Arizona Supreme court called it “one of the most important which has ever come before this court,” as even in the 30’s the property interests involved were worth millions of dollars. The case dealt with water rights of surface water (like rivers, lakes, and streams) based on prior appropriation -generally speaking first come first serve - versus ground water rights (like those coming from wells) that was based on reasonable and beneficial use of the water. It was part of a series of important cases like Davis v. Agua Sierra which created the divided system for Arizona water law - one set of rules for surface water, and one for ground water.