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United States v. Moniz

United States District Court, D. Nebraska

November 2, 2016

JOSEPH D. MONIZ, Defendant.


          Robert F. Rossiter, Jr. United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on defendant Joseph Moniz's (“Moniz”) Objection (Filing No. 39) to Magistrate Judge Thalken's Findings and Recommendation and Order (“F&R”) (Filing No. 33) on his Motion to Suppress (Filing No. 25). Moniz has been charged with aggravated sexual abuse in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2241 and 1153. He seeks suppression of statements he made to Omaha Nation Law Enforcement Detention Facility Corrections Officer William Simmons (“C.O. Simmons”) and to Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) Agent Jeff Howard (“Agent Howard”) on May 4, 2016. The magistrate judge recommends that the motion be granted in part and denied in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In his Motion to Suppress, Moniz argues that he was subjected to custodial interrogations without having been advised of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). The government concedes Moniz was in custody at the time the statements were made, but argues there has been no Miranda violation because the questioning was not an interrogation.

         On September 6, 2016, Magistrate Judge Thalken held an evidentiary hearing. Agent Howard and C.O. Simmons testified at the hearing. An audiotape recording of the defendant's conversation with Agent Howard and a videotape of his conversation with C.O. Simmons, as well as transcripts of those encounters, were offered and received in evidence. Also received in evidence were the Omaha Nation Correction Facility Shift Log (“Shift Log”) and an Omaha Nation Law Enforcement Incident Narrative (“Incident Report”).

         A. Statements to C.O. Simmons

         The evidence adduced at the hearing shows that Moniz turned himself in to the Omaha Nation Law Enforcement Detention Facility in Macy, Nebraska (“Macy Jail”) on May 4, 2016. Moniz had already been booked into the Macy Jail when C.O. Simmons arrived for his shift at 4:00 p.m. that day. C.O. Simmons testified that he was familiar with the defendant because Moniz was a “frequent flyer, ” that is, Moniz “comes in and out [of the jail] from time to time.” C.O. Simmons testified he had received training through the Nebraska State Corrections Facility in Grand Island but had not received any training or education on providing Miranda warnings to individuals.

         The magistrate judge made the following findings:

Corrections Officer Simmons was notified by Mr. Moniz that he needed medical attention as reflected in Government Exhibit 1 [Shift Log]. Corrections Officer Simmons went back to the cell block and talked to Mr. Moniz and asked him what happened -- what was wrong with his arm, and Mr. Moniz made some statements to Corrections Officer Simmons with regards to that his arm got slammed in a door, or however he described it.

         C.O. Simmons stated that it is jail policy (1) to call an Emergency Medical Technician (“EMT”) when an inmate asks for medical attention and (2) let the EMTs ask medically-related questions and provide appropriate treatment. C.O. Simmons testified he escorted Moniz to an office area at the front of the correctional facility where EMTs began to treat Moniz.

         C.O. Simmons testified he recorded the encounter with the EMTs with a video-recording device for “medical clearance” purposes-in case of false accusations by an inmate. Most of the conversation that followed is reflected in Exhibits 102 and 102A. C.O. Simmons testified, however, that before the camera was turned on, Moniz asked Simmons what charges had been filed against him. C.O. Simmons told Moniz that there were two charges at the time, false imprisonment and something “domestic related.” C.O. Simmons also testified that the defendant “started making statements about his arm getting slammed” in a door.

         The magistrate judge found that the defendant was in custody as of the time “he turned himself in to the correctional facility” and that “any interrogation of the Defendant after that time should have been preceded by an advice of rights form under Miranda.” He further found that during the time Moniz was at the front of the jail and an EMT was present and providing medical care to the defendant, “the questions put to Mr. Moniz by Corrections Officer Simmons constitute[d] interrogation . . . and the defendant was entitled to a Miranda warning before he responded to those questions.” He found the questions “were not for the purposes of medical attention” and “those matters were being attended by the EMT.” Accordingly, the magistrate judge concluded “[t]he statements made by the Defendant as reflected in [Ex.] 102A are, I believe, not admissible to the case in chief against the Defendant in this case.”

         However, the magistrate judge decided the questions “that Corrections Officer Simmons directed to the Defendant when he was in the jail cell and brought-and being brought to the front area were for the purposes of determining his medical condition and were not interrogation.” Moniz objects to the magistrate judge's finding that C.O. Simmons' questions to the defendant before the EMT arrived did not constitute interrogation for the purposes of Miranda.

         B. Statements to ...

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