According to the government, the defendant and his son were at
home when the law enforcement agents arrived. The government
alleges that the defendant's son showed the agents his bedroom
as well as that of his father. The government states that the
agents and officers recovered "marijuana, glassine baggies, and
other narcotics paraphernalia" from the bedroom belonging to the
defendant's son. According to the government, the agents and
officers recovered from the defendant's bedroom "two scales,
plastic baggies, a cocaine grinder with white powder residue, a
mug containing two plastic bags filled with white powder, a
paper bag containing two additional plastic bags filled with
white powder, a razor blade with white powder residue and three
cards with white powder residue." The government further alleges
that the agents and officers searched the kitchen where they
recovered "a clear glass jar with white powder, a strainer with
white powder residue, a metal rod caked with a white substance
and a box of baking soda." The law enforcement officials
arrested the defendant at the conclusion of the search.
The government contends that while they were in the
defendant's home, Special Agent Robert Yoos of the DEA advised
the defendant of his rights using "DEA Form 13a". The government
alleges that the "defendant stated that he understood his rights
and that he was willing to provide a statement without the
assistance of counsel." Thereafter, according to the government,
the defendant made the statements described above.
The government states that after the defendant made his oral
statement, the agents transported him to the Freeport Police
Department for processing. Once at the stationhouse, the
defendant allegedly reiterated the information he had provided
in his home and signed a written statement describing his
cocaine distribution activities. The government explains that a
portion of the defendant's written signed statement reads. "I
have not been promised anything for these statements nor have I
been coerced into making any statements."
The government asserts that no law enforcement official
promised the defendant anything in exchange for his statements.
The government acknowledges that the agents may have informed
the defendant that any cooperation would be reported to the
United States Attorney but argues that such comments to a
defendant do not render the defendant's subsequent statements
An evidentiary hearing on a motion to suppress "ordinarily is
required `if the moving papers are sufficiently definite,
specific, detailed, and nonconjectural to enable the court to
conclude that contested issues of fact going to the validity of
the search are in question.'" United States v. Pena,
961 F.2d 333, 339 (2d Cir. 1992) (citations omitted). A defendant seeking
to suppress evidence bears the burden of showing the existence
of disputed issues of material fact. See Pena, 961 F.2d at
338. Indeed, a district court is not required to hold an
evidentiary hearing if the defendant's "moving papers did not
state sufficient facts which, if proven, would have required the
granting of the relief requested." United States v. Culotta,
413 F.2d 1343, 1345 (2d Cir. 1969). Further, a court need not
hold an evidentiary hearing when the "defendant's allegations
are general and conclusory or are based upon suspicion and
conjecture." United States v. Wallace, 1998 WL 401534 *9
(S.D.N.Y. July 17, 1998) (citations omitted).
When opposing a defendant's motion to suppress post-arrest
on the ground that they were involuntarily made, the government
is required to prove the defendant's voluntary waiver of
Miranda rights by a preponderance of the evidence. See United
States v. Villegas, 928 F.2d 512, 518-19 (2d Cir. 1991). "To
prove a valid waiver, the government must show (1) that the
relinquishment of the defendant's rights was voluntary, and (2)
that the defendant had a full awareness of the right being
waived and of the consequences of waiving that right." United
States v. Jaswal, 47 F.3d 539, 542 (2d Cir. 1995) (per curiam).
Only if the totality of the circumstances "reveals both an
uncoerced choice and the requisite level of comprehension may a
court properly conclude that the Miranda rights have been
waived." See Moran v. Burbine, 475 U.S. 412, 421, 106 S.Ct.
1135, 89 L.Ed.2d 410 (1986).
Promises of leniency, without more, do not invalidate a
Miranda waiver. See United States v. Guarno, 819 F.2d 28, 31
(2d Cir. 1987). Although material misrepresentations based on
unfulfillable or other improper promises might overbear a
defendant's will, see Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742,
755, 90 S.Ct. 1463, 1472-73, 25 L.Ed.2d 747 (1970); United
States v. Ruggles, 70 F.3d 262, 265 (2d Cir. 1995), "a
confession is not involuntary merely because the suspect was
promised leniency if he cooperated with law enforcement
officials.'" United States v. Bye, 919 F.2d 6, 9 (2d Cir.
1990) (quoting United States v. Guarno, 819 F.2d 28, 31 (2d
Cir. 1987)). Thus whether promises of leniency overbore the
defendant's will in this case, thereby rendering his waiver
involuntary, depends on the promises made.
The Court also should consider the defendant's background and
experience when determining whether the totality of the
circumstances "reveals an uncoerced choice," Moran, 475 U.S.
at 421, 106 S.Ct. 1135; see United States v. Anderson,
929 F.2d 96, 99 (2d Cir. 1991). Thus, the Court's decision should
account for the defendant's age, intelligence, education, and
experience with the criminal justice system. See Ruggles, 70
F.3d at 265.
Here, there is not dispute that Special Agent Yoos read the
defendant his Miranda warnings. However, the parties disagree
about whether the defendant voluntarily waived his Miranda
rights. As noted above, one of the factors the Court must
consider when determining whether the waiver was voluntary is
the promises the law enforcement officials made to the
defendant. This case presents a factual dispute in that regard,
because the defendant alleges that promises were made, and the
government contends they were not. Thus, although the
defendant's allegations of the circumstances surrounding his
confession are not as definite, specific, and detailed as they
could have been, see Pena, 961 F.2d at 339, there are disputed
issues of fact regarding the voluntariness of the waiver.
Accordingly, the Court cannot decide the defendant's motion to
suppress without an evidentiary hearing. Thus, United States
Magistrate Judge Arlene Lindsay is requested to conduct a
suppression hearing at her earliest convenience.
Having reviewed the submissions of the parties, and having
given them an opportunity for oral argument, it is hereby
ORDERED, that the defendant's application for a suppression
hearing to determine the voluntariness of statements he made to
law enforcement officials is GRANTED; and it is further
ORDERED, that the defendant's motion to suppress statements
made by him is DEFERRED, pending the outcome of the
suppression hearing; and it is further
ORDERED, that this case is referred to United States
Magistrate Judge Arlene Rosario Lindsay to conduct a suppression
hearing at her earliest convenience.
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