United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
J. HAZEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), the Supreme
Court established procedural safeguards designed to protect
the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
U.S. Const. amend. V. Before suspects in a criminal
investigation can be interrogated, Miranda requires
that law enforcement officers provide suspects with basic
information about these rights, including that they have
“a right to remain silent, that any statement [they]
make can be used against [them], and that [they have] the
right to the presence of an attorney.” 384 U.S. at 444.
Though suspects may waive the right to remain silent, they
cannot be coerced to do so. Id. And the right to an
attorney is sacrosanct; once invoked, it is vital that the
“interrogation must cease until an attorney is
present.” See Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S.
477, 484-85 (1981) (quoting Miranda, 384 U.S. at
474). In this case, the Defendant clearly asked for an
attorney on no fewer than three occasions at the beginning of
his interrogation, to which law enforcement officers
responded primarily with efforts to persuade and pressure the
Defendant into choosing to waive the right instead. Although
the Court finds no merit in Defendant's allegations that
officers used access to his cell phone as leverage to coerce
a waiver, because the Court holds that law enforcement
officers should have stopped interrogating Defendant after he
requested an attorney, the statements made by Defendant
during the interrogation will be suppressed.
Government has charged Defendant James Donnell Davis with one
count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to
distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, two counts of
possession with the intent to distribute a controlled
substance, and one count of being a felon in possession of a
firearm. ECF No. 1 at 1-5. Presently pending before the Court is
Defendant's Motion to Suppress Statements. ECF No. 76 at
1. An evidentiary hearing was held on August 20, 2018. ECF
No. 91. For reasons explained in more detail below,
Defendant's Motion to Suppress Statements is granted.
25, 2018, Defendant filed a motion to suppress statements
made during his September 28, 2017, interview with law
enforcement. ECF No. 76 at 1-2. The Government opposed this
motion. ECF No. 85. At the evidentiary hearing held on August
20, 2018, the Government presented two witnesses: Federal
Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Margaret Mande and
Prince George's County Police Officer Sean Chaney. The
defense presented one witness: Defendant Davis. The Court
will summarize its finding of facts herein.
September 28, 2017, Defendant was arrested by law enforcement
officers while taking out the trash outside his residence in
Springfield, Virginia. Among the officers involved were Agent
Mande and Prince George's County Police Officers Chaney
and Mike Margulis.
Defendant's arrest, he was handcuffed and searched, and
officers removed a number of items from his person, including
his cell phone. These items were given to his wife.
in the transport van at the scene of the arrest,
Defendant-apparently concerned that his wife could discover
evidence of his relationships with other women if she
retained possession of his cell phone-asked officers to
retrieve the phone from his wife. The officers agreed to do
so, but Defendant's wife initially gave the officers the
wrong cell phone. Defendant then asked if the officers would
take him to the door so he could ask his wife directly for
the correct cell phone. Once more, officers agreed and
Defendant successfully retrieved his phone.
parties dispute, however, the officers' motivation for
helping Defendant retrieve his phone. Defendant testified
that Agent Mande told him they would only help him get his
phone if he agreed to “help [him]self.” He
further testified that Officer Margulis held onto his cell
phone in the transport van, and told him that only
“when you do what you got to do, you'll get your
phone back.” Agent Mande and Officer Chaney testified
that neither they, nor any of the other officers, ever made
any such suggestion. Neither of the government witnesses
testified to when or how the cell phone was returned to
Defendant, but Defendant himself testified that it was not
returned until Officer Margulis gave the phone to a United
States Marshal just prior to Defendant's release at the
courthouse. During the approximately hour-and-a-half of
Defendant's videotaped interrogation, none of the parties
made any reference to Defendant's cell phone or its use
Defendant's arrest, he was transported to the Criminal
Investigation Division of the Prince George's County
Police Department on Barlowe Road. He was placed into an
interrogation room where he was joined by Agent Mande and
Officers Margulis and Chaney. Agent Mande handed Defendant a
Federal Bureau of Investigation Advice of Rights form that
contains an explanation of Defendant's Miranda
rights. ECF No. 85-3 at 2. As Agent Mande verbally explained
these rights, the following video-recorded exchange occurred:
Mande: And if you decide to answer questions now, without a
lawyer present, you have the right to stop answering
questions at any time.
Davis: If, if I'm, if I'm going to answer questions,
I'm going to need a lawyer here.
Mande: Alright, well, this is just so you understand
that…and then down here, it's just now we're,
this is the part where, if you want a way to talk to us and
answer questions, that's where you sign there. If you
don't want to talk to us, don't…
Davis: I want to talk to you, but I just need my lawyer.
Chaney: Ok, ok, so here's what you're telling us-you
do want your lawyer?
Davis: I want to talk, yeah. But I need my lawyer present.
Chaney: We wanna… either you talk to us now…if
you want to talk to us now, without anybody else present, you
have to sign that waiver. If not, all bets are off, you go
into the system, ok?
Margolis: And this isn't sitting here to discuss your
charges here and to talk to you and ask you questions about
your charges here. That's not what that's for.
We're here for you to tell us what you think you want to
do to try to help yourself out. I'm not here to ask you
questions about your case today, or go into it today.
You're going to get all that, you're going to get
your paperwork today when you have your initial appearance.
Davis: My question is this, alright. If y'all want me
to…such and such…I can't be going to ...