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United States v. Katz

November 6, 2007

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TERRANCE LAVELL KATZ, DEFENDANT,



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge

ORDER

Before the Court is Defendant Terrance Katz's Motion to Suppress Statements. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Suppress Statements is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

The material facts at issue are largely undisputed.

Katz was arrested on February 15, 2007, and charged in state court with Felon in Possession of a Firearm. Following his arrest, Katz was taken to the Rock Island Police Department. Soon after his arrival at the police department, Katz was escorted to an interview room. Waiting for him in the interview room were Rock Island Police Detective Karzin and ATF Agent Pessman. Tr. at 5. Detective Karzin had completed a Miranda rights form so that he was ready to inform Katz of his rights. Tr. at 5. As Katz entered the interview area and saw who was waiting for him, he said he did not want to talk to them. Tr. at 5. Detective Karzin immediately replied that they "just wanted to speak with him about what was going on, advise him what was happening, and [ask] him to hear us out." Tr. at 5. Katz responded, "I'm not going to talk to them. I've got nothing to say." Tr. at 6. Detective Karzin continued by saying that they wanted to talk to Katz, asked Katz to hear them out, and explained that "it might be in his best interest just to listen." Tr. at 6. Again, Katz responded, "I've got nothing to say." Tr. at 6.

At that point, ATF Agent Pessman explained to Katz that the current state charges "could possibly go federal and that he may want to hear what we have to say and make a decision later or make a decision as to whether he wanted to speak with us." Tr. at 6-7. During Agent Pessman's statement, mention was made of fifteen years imprisonment for the federal charge, but Detective Karzin does not recall if Agent Pessman said that the possible penalties might be fifteen to life. Tr. at 16. Agent Pessman also discussed the federal sentencing guidelines, and that a federal prosecution would carry greater penalties than a state prosecution. Tr. at 23. It is possible that Agent Pessman advised Katz that this was his opportunity to cooperate and assist the Government in giving information. Tr. at 21. Armed with the information regarding possible penalties if the case went federal, Katz responded with the remarkable claim that he "could do fifteen years sitting on his dick." Tr. at 20. And, for a fourth time, Katz stated that he did not wish to speak. Tr. at 7.

At that point, Detective Karzin felt there was no hope that Katz would decide to talk to them. He correctly advised Katz that he was being charged in state court with Felon in Possession of Firearm, that his bond would be $75,000, ten percent to apply. Tr. at 7. Katz responded by saying that he did not care because he did not have a gun. Tr. at 7. Detective Karzin then explained that "we were in the process of fingerprinting, asking that the gun be fingerprinted for latent prints, and at which point Katz stated that there weren't any fingerprints on the gun." Tr. at 7-8. Detective Karzin also explained that latent fingerprints can remain when a bullet is placed in the cylinder even if the gun is wiped down. Tr. at 8. Katz's brilliant response to that information was "I used gloves." Tr. at 19.

Detective Karzin testified that, after Katz informed them that he did not want to talk, the detective continued the conversation because he hoped Katz would change his mind and talk to the investigators. Tr. at 22.

DISCUSSION

In Michigan v. Mosely, 423 U.S. 96, 96 S.Ct. 321 (1975), the Supreme Court held that:

A reasonable and faithful interpretation of the Miranda opinion must rest on the intention of the Court in that case to adopt "fully effective means . . . to notify the person of his right of silence and to assure that the exercise of the right will be scrupulously honored . . . ." The critical safeguard identified in the passage at issue is a person's "right to cut off questioning." . . . We therefore conclude that the admissibility of statements obtained after the person in custody has decided to remain silent depends under Miranda on whether his "right to cut off questioning" was "scrupulously honored."

Id. at 103-04 (quoting Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 474, 479, 86 S.Ct. 1602 (1966)).

In the present case, Katz invoked his right to silence four times in the span of a few minutes. Nevertheless, the detectives continued their discussion with Katz. In this Court's opinion, considering the number of times that Katz refused to answer their questions and the short period of uninterrupted time over which he invoked his right to silence, Katz's invocation of his right to silence was not "scrupulously honored."

In Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291, 100 S.Ct. 1682 (1980), the Supreme Court further defined ...


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