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United States v. Chambers

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division

July 28, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
HOWARD KEY CHAMBERS, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOSEPH H. McKINLEY, Jr., Chief District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a motion by Defendant, Howard Key Chambers, to suppress evidence. [DN 58]. Fully briefed, this matter is ripe for decision. For the reasons that follow, Defendant's Motion to Suppress Recorded Statements [DN 58] is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

The present motion stems from the recorded interview of Defendant, Howard Key Chambers ("Chambers"), at his home by Detective Darin Odier of the Indianapolis Police Department (and Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force) and Detective Brian Wright of Louisville Metro Police Department (and Federal Bureau of Investigation Electronic Crimes Task Force). On the morning of October 16, 2014, police officers simultaneously executed an arrest warrant for Chambers and a search warrant of Chambers' residence. While officers were executing the search warrant, Detectives Odier and Wright questioned Chambers. Defendant now seeks to have the statement he made during the interview with the officers suppressed.

The questioning conducted by officers on October 16 focused specifically on Chambers' involvement with co-defendant, Christopher Kosicki, who Chambers had met via Craig's List. Following contact with Kosicki online, Chambers traveled from his residence in Oldham County, Kentucky to Kosicki's residence in Louisville, Kentucky. Once there, Kosicki allegedly introduced Chambers to a ten-year-old child for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity. According to the United States, Chambers returned to Kosicki's residence approximately six to eight more times for the same purpose and money was allegedly exchanged afterwards.

Defendant is charged, by way of a Superseding Indictment [DN 24] returned on November 12, 2014, with enticement and aiding and abetting the sex trafficking of a child under the age of 14, in violation of 18 U.S.C. ยงยง 2422(b) and 1591(a)(1), (b)(1), and (e)(3), respectively.

II. ANALYSIS

The Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination is implicated whenever an individual is "taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom by the authorities in any significant way and is subjected to questioning." Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 478 (1966). Because custodial interrogations are said to be inherently coercive, Miranda established that a suspect must be apprised of certain rights to protect the privilege against self-incrimination. See Dickerson v. United States, 530 U.S. 428, 435, 120 S.Ct. 2326, 147 L.Ed.2d 405 (2000). A suspect may waive his Miranda rights "provided the waiver is made voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently." Miranda, 384 U.S. at 444. The burden rests on the United States to show that the suspect waived his Miranda rights. Berghuis v. Thompkins, 560 U.S. 370, 383 (2010). However, the United States "does not need to show that a waiver of Miranda rights was express. An implicit waiver' of the right to remain silent' is sufficient to admit a suspect's statement into evidence." Id. at 384 (citing North Carolina v. Butler, 441 U.S. 369, 376 (1979)). In other words, certain situations permit a finding of an implied waiver where it "can be clearly inferred from the actions and words of the person interrogated." Butler, 441 U.S. at 373 (1979). "To establish an implied waiver, the prosecution must show (1) that a Miranda warning was given, (2) that it was understood by the accused, and (3) that the subsequent statement was uncoerced." United States v. Miller, 562 Fed.Appx. 272, 289 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Berghuis, 560 U.S. at 384).

The United States does not contest that Defendant was in custody or that police were obligated to provide him with a Miranda warning. Here, the only issue is whether Defendant waived his rights. To this, Defendant asserts his statement made during the interview must be suppressed because he never affirmatively waived his rights. Additionally, he contends that suppression is warranted because police coerced his statement. In response, the United States maintains that the recorded interview unquestionably shows that Defendant implicitly waived his Miranda rights and his statement was made without coercion.

A. Implicit Waiver

At the commencement of the interview between Defendant and police, an officer provided the following Miranda warning:

So like everything else, you've probably heard this before watching TV or whatever, but it's procedure and we always go through it. So, before we ask you any questions you have to understand your rights, you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can be used against you at court, you have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions and to have him with you during any questioning. If you can't afford a lawyer one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. If you decide to answer questions now without a lawyer present you still have the right to stop answering at any time. You also have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to a lawyer. Do you understand what I just read to you sir?

[Ex. 1, DN 59-1 at 00:02:04-02:34]. Defendant acknowledged that he understood his rights after the officer explained them to him by responding with "yes, sir" to the officer. Id . He concedes this point in his brief. [Def.'s Mot. to Suppress Recorded Statements, DN 58, at 3] ("Mr. Chambers confirmed that he understood his rights"). Instead, Defendant argues that the problem is that he "never expressed consent to waiving his rights: the investigator simply began questioning him, and he obediently answered." Id . However, "waiver may be clearly inferred... when a defendant, after being properly informed of his rights and indicating that he understands them, nevertheless does nothing to invoke those rights' and speaks." United States v. Adams, 583 F.3d 457, 467 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting United States v. Nichols, 512 F.3d 789, 798 (6th Cir. 2008)). Defendant's suggestion that obediently answering questions is somehow demonstrative of a lack of a waiver on his part is unsupported by case law. To the contrary, the United States Supreme Court observed that

[Miranda] does not impose a formalistic waiver procedure that a suspect must follow to relinquish those rights. As a general proposition, the law can presume that an individual who, with a full understanding of his or her rights, acts in a manner inconsistent with their exercise has made a deliberate choice to relinquish the protection those rights afford.

Berghuis, 560 U.S. at 385. Thus, Defendant's continual participation in the interview is indicative of his ...


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