Thursday, September 29, 2005

Third Circuit Remands to Decide if Officer Deliberately Violated Miranda Before Getting Mirandized Statement

In United States v. Naranjo,, the Third Circuit held that if officers deliberately used a two-step strategy to obtain a confession in violation of Miranda, first interrogating a custodial defendant without warnings and then obtaining a postwarning statement, both statements must be exluded unless curative measures were taken before the postwarning statement was made. This was the Court's first application of the recent plurality decision in Missouri v. Seibert, 542 U.S. 600. In Naranjo's case, the suppression hearing took place prior to the Seibert decision. The evidentiary hearing revealed that the entire interrogation session was custodial, but that the warnings were only given toward the end of the session. The government conceded that the statements given in the first part of the interrogation session should be suppressed, but contended that the postwarning statements should be admitted because they were voluntarily given under Oregon v. Elstad, 470 U.S. 298. Because the hearing took place prior to Seibert, the district court made no finding whether the officers' decision to interrogate without giving warnings was deliberate, and the Court therefore remanded. The Court stated the test in these cases as follows: "Accordingly, unless the agents deliberately withheld warnings, Elstad controls [and] the relevant inquiry is whether, in fact, the second statement was also voluntarily made. As in any such inquiry, the finder of fact must examine the surrounding circumstances and the entire course of police conduct . . . . If the deliberate two-step strategy has been used, postwarning statements that are related to the substance of prewarning statements must be excluded unless curative measures are taken before the postwarning statement is made."

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