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U.S. v. DICKERSON

September 19, 2000

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
V.
KARL DICKERSON, AND MARTIN D. FILKINS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurd, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

The defendants are charged in a four count indictment with Conspiracy to interfere with commerce by extortion and threats of violence, Interference with commerce by extortion and threats of violence, Attempt to interfere with commerce by extortion and threats of violence, and Transfer of funds in interstate commerce in aid of racketeering activity, all in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951 and 1952. The defendants have pled not guilty to all counts of the indictment.

Defendants Martin D. Filkins ("Filkins") and Karl Dickerson ("Dickerson") moved to suppress all statements made to law enforcement officials, contending that they were made in the absence of a knowing and voluntary waiver of their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. In addition, Filkins requested reconsideration of a previous denial of his motion, pursuant to Fed.R.Crim.P. 15, to permit him to take the deposition of Timothy Droulette ("Droulette"), the civilian victim in this case. See Docket No. 75. A hearing was held on September 6, 2000 in Utica, New York. Decision was reserved.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Defendants' Statements

If a statement is made which stems from custodial interrogation without the presence of an attorney, the government bears a "heavy burden . . . to demonstrate that the defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his privilege against self-incrimination and his right to retained or appointed counsel." Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 475, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966); see also Dickerson v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 120 S.Ct. 2326, 147 L.Ed.2d 405 (2000) (reaffirming Miranda). The United States Supreme Court later clarified that "[w]henever the State bears the burden of proof in a motion to suppress a statement that the defendant claims was obtained in violation of our Miranda doctrine, the State need prove waiver only by a preponderance of the evidence." Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 168, 107 S.Ct. 515, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986); Cf. United States v. Matlock, 415 U.S. 164, 178 n. 14, 94 S.Ct. 988, 39 L.Ed.2d 242 (1974) (stating that "the controlling burden of proof at suppression hearings should impose no greater burden than proof by a preponderance of the evidence.").

To determine whether a defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived his Miranda rights, the totality of the circumstances surrounding the interrogation must be considered. See Fare v. Michael C., 442 U.S. 707, 725, 99 S.Ct. 2560, 61 L.Ed.2d 197 (1979). This approach permits consideration of factors such as "age, experience, education, background, and intelligence," as well as "whether [the defendant] has the capacity to understand the [Miranda] warnings given him, the nature of his Fifth Amendment rights, and the consequences of waiving those rights." Id.

The government concedes that the defendants were in custody when they were questioned. However, the government contends that both defendants knowingly and voluntarily waived their Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. Based upon the evidence presented at the suppression hearing, as discussed below, the government has met its burden of establishing that the defendants waived their Miranda rights.

Before Dickerson was interviewed, FBI Special Agent Thomas Stewart read a pre-printed Advice of Rights form aloud to Dickerson. After that, Special Agent Stewart handed Dickerson the form to read. Dickerson stated that he understood and signed the Waiver of Rights portion of the form, which was witnessed by Special Agent Stewart and Investigator Henry Piotrowski of the New York State Police.

Prior to being arrested and handcuffed, FBI Agent Gregory Hautau read the Advice of Rights form aloud to Filkins. Filkins acknowledged that he understood. Filkins then read the Advice of Rights form aloud and initialed each paragraph on the form. He then read the Waiver of Rights portion and signed that. This was witnessed by Agent Hautau and FBI Special Agent Daniel Matthews.

Both defendants were over the age of eighteen at the time of their arrests and both men spoke English. There was no evidence presented that either of them did not comprehend their rights or that they suffered from any mental disability. Therefore, the defendants' motion to suppress statements made to law enforcement officers must be denied.

B. Deposition of Timothy Droulette

The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure ...


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