But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated Duncan’s lawsuit last April. Allowing smoking on some flights is not a “service” provided by an airline, the court said.
In the appeal acted on today, Northwest’s lawyers said airlines should not have to “tailor their operations” to comply with laws in various states.
Duncan’s lawyers said the deregulation law was not intended to protect airlines from personal-injury claims.
The case is Northwest Airlines vs. Duncan, 00-404.
Considering a ‘Tricked’ Murder Confession
The Supreme Court also declined today to hear an appeal by man who claimed he was tricked into confessing to the killings of his parents when he was a high school senior.
The case tested whether a murder suspect’s confession, made after he was read his Miranda rights, was tainted by lengthy police questioning and incriminating statements he made beforehand.
The case concerned the aftermath of a lurid 1988 double killing in Belle Terre, N.Y., a wealthy section of Long Island. The victims’ son, then 17 years old, confessed but later claimed that police pressured him into it.
Martin Tankleff first told police that when he awoke for school he discovered his father, Seymour, gravely wounded in the study of the family home, and saw the body of his mother, Arlene, on her bedroom floor.
Tankleff named his father’s business partner as the probable killer, noting that the partner owed Seymour Tankleff money, and that he had been at the home for a poker game that lasted into the wee hours that morning.
After several hours of interviews and questioning at the home and at a Suffolk County, N.Y., police station, police falsely told Tankleff that his father had awakened from a coma and named him as the killer.
At that point Tankleff wondered aloud if he might have “blacked out” and committed the crimes, and added, “It’s starting to come to me.”
Police then read him his rights under the landmark Supreme Court Miranda ruling, which states that suspects in custody must be told of their right to a lawyer and that anything they say may be used against them.
Tankleff waived his rights and confessed to attacking his parents. Seymour Tankleff died a few weeks later.
In their Supreme Court appeal, Tankleff’s lawyers argued that if the court found a Miranda violation it should follow that the later confession was “fruit of a poisoned tree.”
Prosecutors said the appeals court correctly based its decision on another Supreme Court case that held “a suspect who has once responded to unwarned, yet uncoerced questioning, is not thereby disabled from waiving his rights and confessing after he has been given the requisite Miranda warnings.”
The cases are Tankleff vs. Superintendent of Clinton Correctional Facility, 00-327, and Superintendent of Clinton Correctional Facility vs. Tankleff, 00-519. The Associated Press contributed to this report.