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United States v. Donahue

February 11, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JOSEPH P. DONAHUE, DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Munley

MEMORANDUM

Before the court for disposition is Defendant Joseph P. Donahue's motion to suppress. The matter has been fully briefed and an evidentiary hearing was held on February 5, 2010. The motion is thus ripe for disposition.

Background

The United States of America (hereinafter "government") has filed a sixteen-count Second Superceding Indictment against Defendant Joseph P. Donahue (hereinafter "defendant"). The indictment contains charges of bank fraud, credit card fraud, false statements to the government and money laundering. During the investigation into this matter, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation visited defendant's place of employment on August 10, 2005 and spoke with him. The defendant seeks the suppression of any statements made by the defendant on that day.

Discussion

The Supreme Court has held that the Self-Incrimination Clause of the Fifth Amendment "[bars] the introduction in federal cases of involuntary confessions made in response to custodial interrogation." Withrow v. Williams, 507 U.S. 680, 688 (1993). For incriminating statements elicited from a defendant during a custodial interrogation to be admissible, law enforcement officers must first inform suspects that (1) they have the right to remain silent; (2) their statements may be used against them at trial; (3) they have the right to the presence of an attorney during questioning; and (4) if they cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for them. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 478-79 (1966). The parties agree that the government did not advise the defendant of these rights on the date in question. Therefore, to be admissible the statements must not have been elicited during a custodial interrogation. The court's task is to determine whether the defendant was subject to a custodial interrogation.

"[C]ustodial interrogation" is "'questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way.'" Oregon v. Mathiason, 429 U.S. 492, 494 (1977) (quoting Miranda, 384 U.S. at 444). To determine whether a suspect is in custody, we examine "how a reasonable man in the suspect's position would have understood his situation." Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420, 442 (1984). The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has explained that: "For a person to be in custody when he has not been arrested, something must be said or done by the authorities, either in their manner of approach or in the tone or extent of their questioning, which indicates that they would not have heeded a request to depart or to allow the suspect to do so. " United States v. Willaman, 437 F.3d 354, 359 (3d Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Thus, the court has several factors to consider in determining whether a suspect is "in custody" including:

(1) whether the officers told the suspect he was under arrest or free to leave;

(2) the location or physical surroundings of the interrogation;

(3) the length of the interrogation;

(4) whether the officers used coercive tactics such as hostile tones of voice, the display of weapons, or physical restraint of the suspect's movement; and

(5) whether the suspect voluntarily submitted to questioning.

Id. at 359-60.

After holding an evidentiary hearing on February 5, 2010, the court makes the ...


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