United States District Court, D. Minnesota
ORDER ACCEPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
C. Tostrud United States District Judge
case is before the Court on a Report and Recommendation
issued by Magistrate Judge Steven E. Rau. ECF No. 49
(“R&R”). Magistrate Judge Rau recommends
denying both of defendant Chapman's motions to suppress
[ECF Nos. 33, 34] because he was not in custody when the
statements were made and there was probable cause for the two
search warrants. R&R at 20, 23-25. Chapman filed a
one-page objection, challenging only the conclusion that he
was not in custody for Miranda purposes at the time
he was interrogated. ECF No. 50 at 1. Beyond objecting to
this ultimate legal conclusion, Chapman does not make any
specific objections and relies on his original brief.
Id. (citing ECF No. 47). In response to
Chapman's “sparse” and “general”
objections, the Government requests that the Report and
Recommendation be adopted in its entirety. ECF No. 51 at 1-2.
when a party objects to the Report and Recommendation, the
Court is required to undertake de novo review pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). But here, the Government argues that
because “Chapman presents no specific objections . . .
and merely references the arguments he previously made . . .
. the standard of review is clear error.” Resp. at 2.
There is certainly ample District precedent for this
proposition. See, e.g., United States v.
McMillan, No. 17-cr-0290 (WMW/BRT), 2018 WL 2383162, at
*3 (D. Minn. May 25, 2018) (“Because [defendant] does
not challenge any particular aspect of the R&R's
probable-cause analysis, the Court reviews this objection to
the R&R for clear error.”); United States v.
Flor, No. 18-cv-699 (JRT/BRT), 2019 WL 293237, at *2 (D.
Minn. Jan. 23, 2019) (“Objections which are not
specific but merely repeat arguments presented to and
considered by a magistrate judge are not entitled to de novo
review, but rather are reviewed for clear error.”
(quoting Montgomery v. Compass Airlines, LLC, 98
F.Supp.3d 1012, 1017 (D. Minn. 2015))); see also Martinez
v. Astrue, No. 10-5863, 2011 WL 4974445, at *3 (E.D. Pa.
Oct. 19, 2011) (citing cases from numerous other
are reasons to question this approach. The applicable
statute, 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), does not create such a
requirement, at least not explicitly. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1) (“[A]ny party may serve and file
written objections to such proposed findings and
recommendations as provided by rules of court. A judge of the
court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of
the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations
to which objection is made.”); see also Fed.
R. Crim. P. 59(b)(1); Local Rule 72.2(a)(3). And to the
extent § 636(b)(1) does reference or require
specificity, Chapman's objection does pinpoint a
particular aspect of the Report and Recommendation that he
challenges-the legal conclusion that he was not in
custody-although he certainly could have more clearly lodged
an objection to a specific aspect of the
custodial-interrogation analysis. See Obj. at 1. Nor
has the Eighth Circuit adopted this modified standard of
review for non-specific objections. As the Eighth Circuit
stated in Bell v. Purkett:
Congress has mandated that the district court give de
novo review to those portions of a Magistrate's
report and recommendation to which objections are made. 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). There is a court-created exception
in some circuits: “. . . [T]he district court need not
conduct de novo review when a party makes general
and conclusory objections that do not direct the court to a
specific error in the magistrate judge's proposed
findings and recommendations.” Johnson v.
Knable, 1991 WL 87147, at *1, 1991 U.S. App. Lexis
12125, slip op. at *4 (4th Cir. May 28, 1991), citing
Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47-48 (4th
Cir.1982); United States v. Merz, 376 U.S. 192, 199,
84 S.Ct. 639, 643, 11 L.Ed.2d 629 (1964); Pendleton v.
Rumsfeld, 628 F.2d 102, 105-06 (D.C. Cir. 1980). There
is language in an Eighth Circuit case which indicates this
Circuit's approval of such an exception. Branch v.
Martin, 886 F.2d 1043 (8th Cir.1989) (“In the
present case, plaintiff's objections to the
magistrate's factual conclusions were timely filed and
specific enough to trigger de novo review. See,
e.g., Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5, 7 (3d Cir.
1984) (per curiam) (no de novo review if objections are
untimely or general)”).
The Eighth Circuit has, however, repeatedly emphasized the
necessity of de novo review, and thus retention by the
district court of substantial control over the ultimate
disposition of matters referred to a magistrate. Id.
at 1045. Failure to conduct de novo review when required is
reversible error. Id. at 1046.
15 F.3d 803, 815 (8th Cir. 1994); see also Hudson v.
Gammon, 46 F.3d 785, 786 (8th Cir. 1995) (declining to
apply “the exception recognized in some circuits that
de novo review is not required when a party makes general and
conclusory objections, ” and again noting that
“[t]he failure to perform de novo review when required
is reversible error”).
this issue need not be resolved here because that part of
Magistrate Judge Rau's Report and Recommendation
addressing the Motion to Suppress Statements, Admissions and
Answers is plainly correct. See also Resp. at 4 n.4
(“[E]ven if the Court were to conduct a de novo review
. . . Chapman's Objections lack merit and the Court
should adopt the R&R in its entirety.”). Magistrate
Judge Rau properly weighed the Griffin factors and
correctly observed that the Eighth Circuit has never held
that a person was in custody when the defendant was told he
was not under arrest, that answering questions was voluntary,
and that he was free to leave. See R&R at 14-20
(citing United States v. Perrin, 659 F.3d 718, 721
(8th Cir. 2011) (“[W]e have never held that a person
was in custody after receiving [admonitions that the person
could leave and did not have to answer questions if he or she
stayed].”); United States v. Czichray, 378
F.3d 822, 826 (8th Cir. 2004)). The Court has reviewed the
remainder of the Report and Recommendation's findings and
conclusions and found no clear error.
based upon all of the files, records, and proceedings in the
above-captioned matter, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED
Objections to the Report and Recommendation [ECF No. 50] are
Report and Recommendation [ECF No. 49] is
ACCEPTED in full;
Defendant's Motion to Suppress Statements, Admissions,
and Answers [ECF No. 33] is DENIED; and
Defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained as a
Result of Search and ...