United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
SUPPRESS CUSTODIAL STATEMENTS
Robert S. Lasnik United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on defendant's
“Motion for Voluntariness Hearing and Motion to
Suppress Custodial Statements.” Dkt. # 272. Defendant
argues that his statements to Beaverton Police Officer
Anthony Jenkins and Sergeant Mark Groshong on October 16,
2014, should be suppressed as the product of an un-Mirandized
custodial interrogation. Having considered the memoranda
submitted by the parties and the remainder of the record, and
having conducted the voluntariness hearing requested by
defendant, see Dkt. # 323, the Court finds as
October 16, 2014, Beaverton Police Sergeant Mark Groshong
responded to an online classified advertisement, suspecting
that it was an ad for prostitution services. Through text
messages with the contact listed in the advertisement,
Sergeant Groshong learned that two women were staying at the
Fairfield Inn & Suites in Beaverton, and that they would
participate in a “duo” for five hundred dollars.
7:49 p.m., together with Beaverton Police Officers Maycock
and Spurgeon, Sergeant Groshong traveled to the Fairfield Inn
& Suites. As the officers entered the hotel lobby, they
saw witnesses JS and MK, whom Sergeant Groshong recognized
from the advertisement and from an additional photograph that
the contact had sent via text message. The officers stopped
the women and then separated them for questioning. Through
this questioning, the officers learned that defendant had
driven MK and JS to Beaverton from Washington and booked the
hotel room; that the women were to engage in prostitution in
the hotel room; and that they were expected to give defendant
the proceeds of that prostitution.
officers also got a physical description of defendant and
learned that defendant was in the area, driving a silver
Toyota Camry. Via radio, Sergeant Groshong instructed
Beaverton Police Officers Gill and Jenkins, who were driving
nearby, to look for defendant in a silver sedan. As in past
investigations, the officers understood that if they found
defendant, they were to hold him until Sergeant Groshong
arrived to question him.
ten to fifteen minutes later, around 8:33 p.m., Officers Gill
and Jenkins radioed that they had located defendant driving
near the hotel and had initiated a traffic stop on the
grounds that defendant had failed to stop at a stop sign.
Officer Jenkins collected defendant's driver's
license and returned to his police vehicle to run a check on
the license. While running the check, Officer Jenkins was in
contact with Sergeant Groshong about the stop. After roughly
five minutes, Officer Jenkins returned to defendant's car
and asked him to step out so they could talk. After Officer
Jenkins conducted a brief pat-down, he asked defendant a
series of questions about his activities, both in Beaverton
and more generally. He also listed various pieces of evidence
suggesting that defendant had been promoting prostitution and
asked defendant what he thought MK and JS were doing in the
hotel room. During this conversation, defendant's
movement was unrestricted, and Officer Jenkins's tone was
conversational. Officer Jenkins was consciously stalling for
time while the officers at the hotel concluded their
investigation. He testified that if defendant had asked to
leave, he would have refused to permit it.
twenty minutes after Officers Gill and Jenkins stopped
defendant, Sergeant Groshong arrived. After speaking briefly
with Officer Gill, Sergeant Groshong told defendant that he
was investigating a prostitution operation and delivered a
Miranda warning from memory. Defendant waived his
Miranda rights, and Sergeant Groshong asked him a
series of questions. At 9:11 p.m., defendant was handcuffed
and arrested for promoting prostitution. Less than an hour
later, defendant was cited and released.
now moves to exclude the statements he made to Officer
Jenkins as the products of un-Mirandized custodial
interrogation, and to exclude the statements he subsequently
made to Sergeant Groshong as fruits of the earlier
Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination requires the
exclusion of statements elicited in a custodial interrogation
unless the suspect was first issued warnings pursuant to
Miranda v. Arizona. 384 U.S. 436, 444-45 (1966).
Whether an officer must deliver Miranda warnings
before interrogating a suspect depends on whether the suspect
is “in custody” at the time of the questioning.
United States v. Kim, 292 F.3d 969, 974 (9th Cir.
2002). “‘[C]ustody' is a term of art that
specifies circumstances that are thought generally to present
a serious danger of coercion.” Howes v.
Fields, 132 S.Ct. 1181, 1189 (2012).
determine whether a suspect was in custody, a court looks at
all of the objective circumstances of the interrogation and
asks whether the law enforcement officers “established
a setting from which a reasonable person would believe that
he or she was not free to leave.” Kim, 292
F.3d at 973-74 (quoting United States v.
Beraun-Panez, 812 F.2d 578, 580 (9th Cir. 1987)).
Relevant circumstances include (1) the language used to
summon the individual; (2) the extent to which the defendant
is confronted with evidence of guilt; (3) the physical
surroundings of the interrogation; (4) the duration of the
detention; and (5) the degree of pressure applied to detain
the individual. Id. at 974.
those factors to this case, the Court concludes that, during
the initial interview with Officer Jenkins on October 16,
2014, defendant was in custody for Miranda purposes.
While it is true that routine traffic stops do not constitute
custody, traffic stops can become custodial in nature.
See Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420, 438-40
(1984). That is what happened here. After running
defendant's driver's license, Officer Jenkins
returned to defendant and asked him to exit the car so that
the two of them could talk. Officer Jenkins did not return
defendant's driver's license. And rather than
continuing to discuss the stated reason for the traffic stop
- failing to stop at a stop sign - Officer Jenkins began
questioning defendant about possible criminal conduct not
related to his driving. During this conversation, Officer
Jenkins confronted defendant with evidence gathered through
the other officers' investigation at the hotel. In doing
so, the scope of the officer's investigation extended
beyond one “reasonably related . . . to the
circumstances which justified” the initial traffic
stop, thus exceeding the degree of detention justified by
defendant's traffic violation. Terry v. Ohio,
392 U.S. 1, 20 (1968); Illinois v. Caballes, 543
U.S. 405, 407 (2005).
the detention lasted roughly twenty minutes and was conducted
in public, and though Officer Jenkins maintained a polite,
conversational tone, a reasonable person in defendant's
position would have understood that he was not free to leave.
Indeed, both defendant and Officer Jenkins testified that
during their conversation they understood that defendant was
not free to leave. See Kim, 292 F.3d at 973-74. Of
course, the subjective views of the detaining officer and of
the suspect himself do not settle the question, see
Stansbury v. California, 511 U.S. 318, 323 (1994), but
their impressions shed light on the objective circumstances
of the situation.
Court concludes that defendant was in custody during his
conversation with Officer Jenkins and accordingly should have
been given Miranda warnings before he was
questioned. Absent Miranda warnings, defendant's
statements are not admissible as evidence in the
government's case in chief.
Court does not find, however, that defendant's will was
overborne by the circumstances of his questioning. United
States v. Preston, 751 F.3d 1008, 1016 (9th Cir. 2014)
(en banc). Accordingly, defendant's statements were
voluntary and may be used for impeachment purposes, if ...