United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
RICHARDSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Suppress (Doc.
No. 21, “the Motion”). Via the Motion, Defendant
seeks to suppress his statements made to law enforcement
officers on the grounds that his statements were obtained in
violation of the Fifth Amendment. The Government has filed a
response (Doc. No. 34), and Defendant replied (Doc. No. 35).
Therefore, this matter is ripe for decision.
24, 2018, an alleged male victim exited his car in the
parking lot of his apartment complex when two male
individuals approached him from behind. One of the male
individuals pointed a handgun at the victim and demanded that
he “empty his pockets.” The male individuals then
took the victim's wallet, car keys, and cell phone and
drove away in the victim's car. The victim's wife
provided the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department
(“MNPD”) with images of both robbers that she
obtained from the apartment complex's camera system. The
images were disseminated to local media outlets.
25, 2019, the day after the robbery, Defendant turned himself
in. At the time, there was no warrant issued for
Defendant's arrest. MNPD Detectives Brian Stanley and
Joseph Haislip subsequently questioned Defendant at the
police station. Prior to the initiation of questioning,
Defendant signed a Miranda waiver form, which read
in relevant part:
we ask you any questions, you must understand your rights:
Waiver of Rights
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and
will be used against you in a court of law. You have the
right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one
will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have
just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to
speak to me?”
(Doc. No. 35-1). Defendant signed the Waiver of Rights and
then gave incriminating statements to the detectives.
argues that the Miranda warnings given to him were
invalid because the written Miranda waiver advised
Defendant “that he had ‘the right to an
attorney,' [but] did not explain that he had that right
before and during the interrogation.” (Doc.
No. 21 at 4). The Government argues that (1) Miranda
warnings were unnecessary because Defendant was not in
custody during the interview; and (2) even assuming
arguendo Defendant was in custody during the
interview, the written Miranda warnings provided to
Defendant did not violate Defendant's Fifth Amendment
rights. (Doc. No. 29 at 3-9). The Court agrees with the
Government that, assuming arguendo Defendant was in
custody, the written Miranda waiver provided to
Defendant passes Fifth Amendment scrutiny.
Fifth Amendment provides that a defendant in a criminal case
cannot be compelled to be a witness against himself.
See U.S. Const. amend. V. Consistent with that
right, in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 478-79
(1966), the Supreme Court held “if a person in custody
is to be subjected to interrogation, he must first be
informed in clear and unequivocal terms that he has the right
to remain silent [and the right to counsel].” The right
to counsel includes both “the right to consult with a
lawyer and to have the lawyer with [you] during
interrogation.” Berghuis v. Thompkins, 560
U.S. 370, 383 (2010).
respect to the adequacy of Miranda warnings, the
Sixth Circuit in a recent opinion explained:
Warnings need not be formulaic. Powell, 559 U.S. at
60; Duckworth v. Eagan, 492 U.S. 195, 202-03 (1989);
[California v. Prysock, 453 U.S. 355, 359-60
(2012)]. Indeed, there is no “talismanic
incantation” officers must follow. Prysock,
453 U.S at 359. Rather, what officers must do is warn a
suspect in a manner that, to invoke a baseball analogy,
“touch[es] all of the bases” reasonably to convey
to a suspect his rights under Miranda.
Duckworth, 492 U.S. at 203. With some play in the
joints, courts should not “examine Miranda
warnings as if construing a will or defining the terms of an
easement.” Id. Instead, our test is a
practical one: Would a suspect hearing the warnings
reasonably understand his options regarding
United States v. Clayton, No. 18-2237, 2019 WL
4125275, ---F.3d---, at *6 (6th Cir. Aug. 30, 2019) (emphasis
added). The court then narrowed in on the right-to-counsel
aspects of Miranda and discussed the Supreme
Court's decision in Florida v. Powell, 559 U.S.
50, 60 (2010).
In Powell, a Florida police officer told a suspect:
“You have the right to talk to a lawyer before
answering any of our questions. If you cannot afford to hire
a lawyer, one will be appointed for you without cost and
before any questioning. You have the right to use any of
these rights at any time you want during this
interview.” Id. at 54[.] The Florida Supreme
Court deemed this warning misleading because it interpreted
“before questioning” as imposing a time limit on
the right to counsel. Id. at 55[.] That phrasing,
the Florida Supreme Court concluded, erroneously suggested
that the suspect (Powell) could consult with an attorney ...