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USA v. Garcia

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 8, 2017

USA
v.
Garcia et al

          Present: The Honorable CHRISTINA A. SNYDER

          CRIMINAL MINUTES - GENERAL

         Proceedings: DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS (Dkt. 229, filed March 9, 2017)

         I. INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND

         On November 22, 2013, the government filed an indictment as to defendant Juan Carlos Garcia, charging two counts of methamphetamine distribution. Dkt. 1.

         On December 10, 2013, defendant was arrested and interviewed by Special Agent Jonathan Bauman and Task Force Officer Frank Flores. Shortly after the interrogation began Flores read defendant his Miranda rights, defendant acknowledged that he understood those rights, and defendant signed a waiver of his rights. Defendant subsequently engaged in a nearly hour-long interrogation.

         On July 8, 2014, a jury convicted Garcia on Count 1, and acquitted him on Count 2. Dkt. 130. On April 14, 2016, the Ninth Circuit vacated Garcia's conviction and remanded the case to this Court. Dkt. 169.

         On March 9, 2017, defendant filed the instant motion to suppress his post-arrest statements to Bauman and Flores. Dkt. 229 (“Motion”). Defendant argues that his statements were obtained in violation of the Fifth Amendment because defendant relinquished his Miranda rights involuntarily.[1] The government filed its opposition on March 21, 2017, dkt. 236 (“Opp'n”), and defendant filed his reply on April 3, 2017, dkt. 243 (“Reply”).

         Having carefully considered the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         “In criminal trials, in the courts of the United States, whenever a question arises whether a confession is incompetent because not voluntary, the issue is controlled by that portion of the Fifth Amendment . . . commanding that no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” Missouri v. Seibert, 542 U.S. 600, 607 (2004) (quotation marks omitted). To reduce the risk of coerced confessions, “this Court in Miranda concluded that ‘the accused must be adequately and effectively apprised of his rights and the exercise of those rights must be fully honored.'” Id. (quoting Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 467 (1966)). However, Miranda holds that “[t]he defendant may waive effectuation” of the rights conveyed in the warnings “provided the waiver is made voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently.” 384 U.S. at 444.

         “Voluntariness must be established by a preponderance of the evidence.” United States v. Heredia-Fernandez, 756 F.2d 1412, 1415 (9th Cir. 1985). The voluntariness “inquiry has two distinct dimensions.” Moran v. Burbine, 475 U.S. 412, 421 (1986).

First, the relinquishment of the right must have been voluntary in the sense that it was the product of a free and deliberate choice rather than intimidation, coercion, or deception. Second, the waiver must have been made with a full awareness of both the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon it. Only if the totality of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation reveal both an uncoerced choice and the requisite level of comprehension may a court properly conclude that the Miranda rights have been waived.

Id. (quotation marks omitted). The assessment of the totality of the circumstances may include consideration of the length and location of the interrogation; evaluation of the maturity, education, physical and mental condition of the defendant; and determination of whether the defendant was properly advised of his Miranda rights. Doody v. Schiro, 548 F.3d 847, 859 (9th Cir. 2008).

         A Miranda warning and a waiver are not dispositive on the issue of voluntariness. Id. (“[A]lthough adequate Miranda warnings provide a measure of protection against coercion in custodial police interrogations, the protection actually provided in any given case depends on how effective the warnings as given and implemented were in conveying their layered messages.”). However, giving Miranda warnings and obtaining a waiver has “generally produced a virtual ticket of admissibility; maintaining that a statement is involuntary even though given after warnings and voluntary waiver of rights requires unusual stamina, and litigation over voluntariness tends to end with the finding of a valid waiver.” Seibert, 542 U.S. at 608-09; see ...


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