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United States v. English

April 27, 2006

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
SHELDON J. ENGLISH, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Defendant Sheldon English ("English") is charged in a single-count Indictment with possession of a firearm and ammunition by a person having been previously convicted of a crime punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2).

On November 30, 2005, the defendant filed an omnibus motion seeking, inter alia, suppression of statements made while in police custody. English contends that he was not properly advised of his Miranda rights, and therefore did not make a knowing and/or voluntary waiver of his rights.

By Order dated October 20, 2005, this case was referred to Magistrate Judge Marian W. Payson for pretrial proceedings. Pursuant to that Order, on March 1 and March 10, 2006, Judge Payson held a hearing to determine whether or not the defendant's statements should be suppressed. On March 27, 2006, Judge Payson issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that defendant's motion to suppress be denied. Specifically, Judge Payson determined that English had been properly advised of his rights, and therefore, the statements made while in custody should not be suppressed. English objects to Judge Payson's Report and Recommendation on grounds that Judge Payson did not apply the proper legal standard, and did not consider all of the relevant facts in determining whether or not his statements were made voluntarily.

For the reasons set forth below, I affirm and adopt Judge Payson's Report and Recommendation in its entirety, and deny defendant's motions to suppress.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), after the filing of a Report and Recommendation, any party may serve and file written objections to such proposed findings and recommendations. After such filing, [a] judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed finding or recommendations to which objection is made. A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate.

28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). A district court, however, may not reject the credibility findings of a Magistrate Judge without conducting an evidentiary hearing in which the district court has the opportunity to observe and evaluate witness credibility in the first instance. Cullen v. United States, 194 F.3d 401 (2nd Cir. 1999). I apply these standards to the following analysis.

BACKGROUND

The relevant facts of this case were set forth in Judge Payson's Report and Recommendation, and familiarity with those facts is presumed. In summary, on April 22, 2005, English was arrested following an alleged shooting. He was taken to the Public Safety Building in Rochester, New York, where he was interviewed by City of Rochester, New York, Police Department Investigator Louis Alletto, and an Investigator Ferguson. According to Investigator Alletto's testimony at the suppression hearing, Alletto initiated the interview with English by obtaining biographical information from him. Alletto observed English during this time and believed that English was mentally competent, not under the influence of any drug or alcohol, and was fluent in the English language. Alletto testified that after obtaining defendant's biographical information, Alletto informed English of his Miranda rights by reading those rights as they are printed on a reference card utilized by the City of Rochester Police Department. He testified that English acknowledged that he understood his rights, and that English agreed to waive his rights. Thereafter, English made several statements to the investigators, but refused to sign a written statement.

DISCUSSION

Relying on precedent set forth in United States v. Jaswal, 47 F.3d 539 (2nd Cir. 1995), Judge Payson determined that English had been properly advised of his Miranda rights, and that he had knowingly and voluntarily waived those rights. In Jaswal, the Second Circuit held that:

To establish a valid waiver [of a defendant's Miranda rights], the government must prove by a preponderance of the evidence "(1) that the relinquishment of the defendant's rights was voluntary, and (2) that the defendant had a full awareness of the ...


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