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United States v. Brown

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

February 26, 2014

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Alison Ann Brown, Defendant.

ORDER DECLINING TO ADOPT REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

DONOVAN W. FRANK, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court upon Defendant Alison Ann Brown's ("Defendant") objections (Doc. No. 54) and Plaintiff United States of America's (the "Government") objections (Doc. No. 59) to Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois's December 13, 2013 Report and Recommendation (Doc. No. 48) insofar as it recommends that: (1) Defendant's Pretrial Motion to Suppress Statements, Admissions, and Answers be denied; and (2) Defendant's Pretrial Motion to Suppress Search and Seizure be granted.

The Court has conducted a de novo review of the record, including a review of the arguments and submissions of counsel, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 636(b)(1) and Local Rule 72.2(b). The factual background for the above-entitled matter is clearly and precisely set forth in the Report and Recommendation and is incorporated by reference for purposes of the Government's and Defendant's objections. Having carefully reviewed the record, the Court declines to adopt the Magistrate's Recommendations in several relevant respects.

With regard to Defendant's statements, Defendant argues that all statements she made at the jail following her first request for counsel must be suppressed.[1] When Defendant first stated, "I need a lawyer, " 19-minutes into the interview, she invoked her right to counsel. See Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 484-85 (1981). The Court finds no ambiguity in Defendant's initial request for counsel. See Smith v. Illinois, 469 U.S. 91, 92 (1984) ("[A]n accused's postrequest responses to further interrogation may not be used to cast doubt on the clarity of his initial request for counsel."). Notwithstanding that interrogation ceased at that moment, it appears that Defendant then reinitiated conversation with Agent Ogden, who, once again, provided Defendant with a Miranda warning. (Tr. 57-58.) The Court adopts the Magistrate's conclusion that there is no evidence that Agent Ogden coerced Defendant into reinitiating the interview or that her second waiver of her rights was otherwise involuntary. (Doc. No. 48 at 14); see Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 156, 167 (1986) ("holding that coercive police activity is a necessary predicate to the finding that a confession is not voluntary'").

Approximately eight minutes after her first request for counsel, Defendant said: "Guys I really think that I should talk to a lawyer before I go any further by myself." (Ex. 4, Part II at 3.) Unlike Magistrate Judge Brisbois, the Court concludes that this statement constituted an unambiguous invocation of Defendant's right to counsel for all purposes. ( Contra Doc. No. 48 at 16-17 (finding Defendant's request for counsel to be limited in scope).) As such, all statements made thereafter must be suppressed.

With respect to the search of Defendant's cellular phone, the Government argues that the search warrant for the phone was supported by probable cause.[2] The Court agrees. Considering the totality of the circumstances, including that the cellular phone was found at the scene of the crime (and even excluding paragraph 19), [3] the search warrant affidavit establishes probable cause to believe that relevant evidence would be discovered on the phone. Moreover, even assuming, without deciding, that there was insufficient probable cause to support the issuance of the warrant, the Leon good faith exception would still apply. See United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897, 922 (1984).

Based upon the de novo review of the record and all of the arguments and submissions of the parties, and the Court being otherwise duly advised in the premises, the Court hereby enters the following:

ORDER

1. Defendant Alison Ann Brown's objections (Doc. No. [54]) to Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois's December 13, 2013 Report and Recommendation are SUSTAINED IN PART and OVERRULED IN PART as set forth above.

2. Plaintiff United States of America's objections (Doc. No. [59]) to Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois's December 13, 2013 Report and Recommendation are SUSTAINED IN PART and OVERRULED IN PART as set forth above.

3. The Court DECLINES TO ADOPT Magistrate Judge Leo I. Brisbois's December 13, 2013 Report and Recommendation (Doc. No. [48]) in several relevant respects.

4. Defendant's Pretrial Motion to Suppress Statements, Admissions, and Answers (Doc. No. [28]) is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART as follows:

a. With respect to Defendant's spontaneous statements to Officer Hamre during transport, the motion is DENIED for the reasons set forth in the Report and Recommendation.
b. With respect to Defendant's statements during the jail interview, the motion is GRANTED to the extent it seeks to suppress all statements after Defendant said: "Guys I really think that I should talk to a lawyer before I go any further by myself."

5. Defendant's Pretrial Motion to Suppress Search and Seizure (Doc. No. [27]) is DENIED for the reasons set forth above.


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