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United States of America v. Charles States

July 19, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
CHARLES STATES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 02 cr 464-6--Ronald A. Guzman, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Flaum, Circuit Judge.

ARGUED MARCH 30, 2011

Before FLAUM, WOOD, and TINDER, Circuit Judges.

Charles States was a member of the Carman Brothers Crew, a group comprised of members and former members of the Latin Kings and Vice Lords gangs. Along with other defendants, States was convicted of a host of criminal charges in relation to the crew's activities. The racketeering charges netted him three life terms of incarceration. On appeal, States argues that he is entitled to a new trial because certain self- incriminating statements he made were elicited in violation of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution. He also urges that he suffered prejudice when all of the counts with which he was charged were tried before a single jury. As a fallback, he asks for re-sentencing. We affirm.

I. Background

Charles States was a member of the Carman Brothers Crew. The group trafficked in illegal narcotics and was formed (among other reasons) to obtain drugs, money, and other property by force. The means they adopted to accomplish these ends included violent kidnappings, robbery, and extortion. For example, sometime around July 2001, the crew abducted a drug dealer and stole illegal narcotics and firearms from him. During that incident, States forced the victim into a car, striking him with the butt of a handgun as he did so. The victim was subsequently bound and tied to a metal pole during the kidnapping, and States stood watch. For his involvement, he reaped a payment of approximately one kilogram of cocaine, which he ultimately sold for approximately $21,000. The next month, States participated in three more kidnappings, part of an effort to recover drugs that had been stolen from the crew. The crew threatened one of the victims with murder, held him for seven days handcuffed to a bed frame, and stole his Rolex watch. States shot and killed the vic- tim's dog and was paid for his involvement with the hijacked timepiece.

In May 2002, the government filed a criminal complaint with a federal magistrate judge in order to obtain an arrest warrant for States and five other members of the Carman Brothers Crew. See Fed. R. Crim. P. 3 & 4 (describing the complaint and its function in establishing probable cause for one or more arrest warrants). The magistrate judge issued arrest warrants for States and five others.

Five months later, in October 2002, two federal agents and three Chicago police officers attempted to take States into custody. They showed up at his apartment, knocked, and announced their presence. States responded with a hail of gunfire through the door. (Of the five rounds he discharged, one struck a police officer in the hand.) The agents and officers responded in kind and States quickly gave himself up. He was taken into custody. Several hours after his arrest, States was questioned. The statements he made, admitted at trial through the testimony of an FBI agent who participated in the interrogation, proved self-incriminating. According to the agent, States received Miranda warnings and waived his right to counsel. He then admitted to and described his participation in kidnappings. The goal of the abductions was to obtain drugs from rival drug organizations. In addition, States admitted to cooking up--that is, manufacturing--crack cocaine. As for the circumstances surrounding his arrest, States tried to explain that after hearing loud knocks at his door, he peered out a window and did not see any police cars. Apparently concerned that his security was being threat- ened, he grabbed a weapon, aimed it at the door, and fired several rounds through the door. Only after fire was returned, States told the agent, did he hear the officers make their affiliation with law enforcement known to him.

After his arrest, a grand jury returned an indictment and then a superseding indictment in the case. The lengthy charging document named States in 12 of 28 counts. Ten of the counts related to States's conduct prior to his arrest: racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c); conspiring to commit racketeering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d); conspiring to possess a controlled substance with intent to distribute it, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846; two counts of possessing a controlled substance with intent to distribute it, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1); committing extortion, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951; three counts of possessing a firearm in relation to drug offenses or crimes of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924 (c)(1)(A); and possessing firearms with obliterated serial numbers, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(k). Two counts were based on the fact that States did not go gently into federal custody: he was charged with attempting to kill a federal agent, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1114, and with the federal analogue to resisting arrest, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111(a)(1) & (b).

Prior to trial, States moved to suppress the post- arrest statements he made to law enforcement, arguing that his statements were elicited in violation of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and his Sixth Amendment right to counsel. The district court rejected States's Sixth Amendment argument outright, ruling that the right to counsel was not triggered by his arrest and interrogation. States's Fifth Amendment argument, which was that he invoked (but was denied) his right to counsel prior to making self-incriminating statements, was referred to a magistrate judge for an evidentiary hearing. The magistrate judge recommended denying the suppression motion; he believed the testi- mony of several law enforcement officers who said that States never requested a lawyer. The district court adopted the report and recommendation.

The case went to a jury, and States was convicted of each of the 12 counts with which he was charged. States filed a post-trial motion with the district court seeking a new trial, arguing for the first time that the charges related to his racketeering and drug trafficking activities should not have been joined with the charges related to his arrest and possessing firearms with obliterated serial numbers. The district court denied the motion along with one other motion not implicated in this ap- peal. Thereafter, the district court ordered that States be given a top-of-the-guidelines sentence of three con- current life terms in prison. In addition, and by opera- tion of statute, States was sentenced to a consecutive term of imprisonment of 57 years for his violations of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A), using a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking offense or crime of violence.

II. Discussion

On appeal, States argues that the district court erred by refusing to suppress the post-arrest statements he made to police, statements which he says were elicited in viola- tion of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution. He also maintains that he is entitled to a new trial because the counts against him were misjoined or because joinder was prejudicial. At a mini- mum, he urges that he should be re-sentenced because the judge improperly ordered part of his sentence to run consecutively ...


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