Monday, July 15, 2013

United States v. Botello-Rosales, No. 12-30074 (per curiam; Pregerson, Wardlaw, and M. Smith on panel) 

The Ninth Circuit reversed a denial of a motion to suppress statements made to police based on defects in the Spanish-language Miranda warnings. The issue is entirely one of translation of the word "free" -- Spanish has one word for "free" as in free beer and another for "free" as in free speech. The Miranda warnings require the first sense, but the cop used the word for the second sense. This didn't accurately convey the substance of the Miranda warnings, see California v. Prysock, 453 U.S. 355 (1981), and it didn't matter that the English warnings were OK.

The decision is here:

United States v. Morgan, No. 12-10056 (Nguyen, author, with Fisher and Callahan) 

[Ed. note: This appeal was handled by the Arizona FPD office.]

The Ninth Circuit affirmed the denial of a motion to suppress statements made after the defendand was given Miranda warnings and invoked her right to counsel because it concluded that the Border Patrol agent's actions here did not amount to the functional equivalent of interrogation.

The defendant was stopped at an informal border crossing that is staffed by Border Patrol. The agents found drugs in her car and arrested her. They gave her the Miranda warnings, and she initially agreed to talk but then invoked her right to counsel. The agents terminated the interview.

Then the defendant was taken to a Border Patrol stationhouse approximately two and a half hours' drive from the informal crossing. While she was being processed, the agents photographed her standing behind the drugs she allegedly smuggled. They also reread her the Miranda warnings (but nothing relating to the waiver of those rights) using a standard Border Patrol form; this was standard policy, according to the arresting cop, even when the suspect had already received the warnings and invoked the right to counsel. Having been reread the warnings and possibly also photographed standing next to the drugs, the defendant said she wanted to waive her right to counsel. During the subsequent interview, the defendant admitted to smuggling marijuana.

First, the Ninth Circuit held that simply rereading the Miranda warnings, without attempting to question the defendant or secure a further waiver of her rights, did not amount to a resumption of questioning that would be forbidden under Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291 (1980). These instead were simply part of normal booking procedures. Second, the court held that re-advising her of her rights, coupled with photographing her standing next to the drugs she allegedly smuggled, was not the "functional equivalent" of interrogation. None of the cops' actions were reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the suspect; even the photograph was arguably part of the booking procedure and nothing more.

The decision is here:


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