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United States v. Gallardo

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

October 21, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ADRIANA GALLARDO (FLORES), and ANGEL AGUILAR

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

AMY J. ST. EVE, District Judge.

The government moves to narrow the court's oral ruling entered on May 14, 2014 suppressing statements made by the Defendant Adriana Gallardo Flores ("Flores"). For the reasons set forth below, the Court[1] grants the government's motion.

BACKGROUND

On August 15, 2013, the grand jury returned a nine-count indictment against Flores and Angel Aguilar ("Aguilar") alleging money laundering and structuring offenses under 18 U.S.C. § 1956 and 31 U.S.C. § 5324 (R. 1, Indictment.) The government arrested Flores on May 29, 2013, pursuant to a criminal complaint. (R. 36-2, Criminal Comp.) The issue before the court first arose on March 14, 2014 when Flores filed a motion to suppress statements she made following her arrest. (R. 32, Mot. to Supp.)

In support of her motion to suppress, Flores submitted a sworn affidavit alleging, in part, the following. During Flores's arrest, a Chicago police officer slammed her against her car and handcuffed her, leaving her with bruises on her body. (R. 32-1, Flores Aff. ¶ 8.) He also called her a "stupid bitch" and was very disrespectful to her. ( Id. ¶ 11.) She immediately told him that she wanted an attorney. ( Id. ¶ 14.) Another officer taunted Flores "about how the women in the MCC were going to have a good time" with her, and Flores told him that she wanted a lawyer. ( Id. ¶ 17.) The original officer transported Flores to the DEA office downtown. ( Id. ¶ 20.) Once there, she was met by IRS Agent William Desmond and CPD Sergeant George Karuntzos. ( Id. ¶ 22.) She asked them why she was there, and they told her she was under arrest for money laundering. ( Id. ¶ 23.) She told them that she wanted a lawyer. ( Id. ¶ 24.) Desmond showed her pictures of her son, and told her to cooperate or her son would be indicted. ( Id. ¶ 25.) She told them that she wanted a lawyer again. ( Id. ¶ 26.) After further statements from Desmond regarding her son and the benefits of her cooperation, Flores signed a written Miranda waiver. ( Id. ¶ 27-29.)

Flores then spoke with the officers for over four hours, giving a detailed statement incriminating herself. (R. 36, Resp. to Mot. to Supp., at 13.); (5/13/2014 Tr. 149.) In her motion, Flores sought to suppress this statement based on the government's procurement of her statements through physical and psychological intimidation in violation of the Fifth Amendment, and her repeated invocation of the right to counsel and the failure of the agents to inform her of her Miranda rights before beginning a custodial interrogation. (R. 32, Mot. to Supp., at 16.)

In its response, the government disputed nearly all of Flores's contentions. (R. 36, Resp. to Mot. to Supp.) It asserted that the arresting officer did not slam Flores against her car during her arrest, and at no point did any of the arresting agents call her a "stupid bitch" or tell her that the female inmates at the MCC would harass her. ( Id. at 12-13.) According to the government, Flores never invoked her right to an attorney, either at the scene of the arrest or at the DEA office downtown. ( Id. at 27-28.) The government also argued that if Flores did invoke her right to an attorney at the scene of the arrest, Flores re-initiated contact with the agents at the DEA office by asking them "why she was there." ( Id. at 29.) The government argued further that the agents' statements to Flores regarding the charges against her before they advised her of her Miranda rights did not constitute a custodial interrogation. ( Id. at 17-19.) Any custodial interrogation only began after Flores validly waived her Miranda rights both orally and by signing a written waiver. ( Id. at 17-19.) Finally, the government argued that Flores's post-arrest statements were not obtained by physical or psychological force or coercion. ( Id. at 20-26.)

The court held a hearing on the motion to suppress over two days beginning on May 13, 2014. After hearing testimony from a number of witnesses, including Flores and both Agent Desmond and Sergeant Karuntzos, the court suppressed Flores's post-arrest statements. Specifically, the court found that: 1) Flores invoked her right to counsel at the scene of the arrest; (R. 40, 5/14/2014 Tr. 52-53) 2) Flores invoked her right to counsel again at the DEA office to Agent Desmond and Sergeant Karuntzos; ( Id. 53-54) and 3) Agent Desmond and Sergeant Karuntzos's conversation with Flores before Flores waived her Miranda rights constituted a custodial interrogation because it was intended to induce Flores to waive her Miranda rights and make incriminating admissions in response. ( Id. 54-56; 65.) Accordingly, the court found Flores's Miranda waiver invalid, and noted that Agent Desmond and Sergeant Karuntzos's denials that Flores invoked her right to an attorney at the DEA office were false. ( Id. 54.) Based on these findings, the court suppressed Flores's statements made in the DEA interview room.[2]

The government brings this motion to narrow the scope of the court's ruling granting Flores's motion to suppress. It does not seek to overturn Judge Grady's decision to suppress Flores's statement and the evidence derived from it. Instead, the government seeks to narrow the scope of the order to exclude any grounds for the decision other than the ruling that Flores invoked her right to counsel at the scene of the arrest. It argues that once the court found that Flores invoked her right to counsel at that point, it was unnecessary for the court to reach any further issues because as a matter of law any further interrogation would be barred unless Flores herself re-initiated communications with law enforcement.

Finally, the government emphasizes that its motion is not one for reconsideration because it is not seeking to overturn the court's decision or to admit the evidence that Judge Grady suppressed. The Court, however, will treat the motion as one for reconsideration, albeit with the understanding that the government is seeking to narrow the grounds for the court's decision rather than overturn it entirely.

LEGAL STANDARD

Motions to reconsider are not explicitly provided for in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, but courts have found that they exist as a matter of general practice. United States v. Rollins, 607 F.3d 500, 502 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing United States v. Healy, 376 U.S. 75, 84 S.Ct. 553, 11 L.Ed.2d 527 (1964)); see also United States v. Townsend, 762 F.3d 641, 645 (7th Cir. 2014) (in criminal cases, "reconsideration motion are accepted as a common-law practice"). "[A] motion to reconsider in a criminal prosecution is proper and may be entertained if it is filed in time." United States v. Beard, 745 F.3d 288, 291 (7th Cir. 2014) (citing Rollins, 607 F.3d at 504).

Motions for reconsideration, however, are not entertained lightly. "A district court may reconsider a prior decision when there has been a significant change in the law or facts since the parties presented the issue to the court, when the court misunderstands a party's arguments, or when the court overreaches by deciding an issue not properly before it." United States v. Ligas, 549 F.3d 497, 501 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing Bank of Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese Sales, Inc., 906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th Cir. 1990) (holding that a motion for reconsideration performs a valuable function where the court has patently misunderstood a party, has made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented, or has made an error not of reasoning but of ...


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