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United States v. Pabon

March 24, 2009



Defendant Rafael Pabon ("Pabon" or "Defendant") is charged in a one count indictment with, having been previously convicted of crimes punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, knowingly and intentionally possessing in and affecting interstate commerce a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922 (g)(1) and 924 (a)(2). Indictment (Dkt. No. 1). Defendant was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge David R. Homer on April 20, 2007. Defendant seeks to suppress statements made by him to police officers and evidence seized from his person pursuant to his arrest on January 19, 2007. Dkt. Nos. 19, 22. An evidentiary hearing was held on September 24, 2008, October 7, 2008, and December 17, 2008.

I. Background

On or about June 27, 2006, a New York State Parole Officer executed a document detailing behavior which violated the Defendant's parole conditions and indicating that Defendant's whereabouts were unknown and that efforts would be made to apprehend him. An arrest warrant was issued for Pabon on June 28, 2006 alleging a violation of parole. In January 2007, New York State Parole Officer Bob Georgia received information that Pabon was residing at the Yates Village Apartment complex in Apartment H-22. The police obtained written consent to search from the legal resident of Apartment H-22 ("CI"). CI then told Pabon via cell phone that she needed to get into Apartment H-22 but did not have a key. Pabon sent CI the key via another individual, Toni Yager.

Following a search of Apartment H-22, a bag was located containing a handgun, clothing, and a Mid-State Correctional Facility ID Card. CI then called Pabon's cell phone again, and he instructed her to return the key to Apartment F-6, which belonged to Yager. CI went to Apartment F-6, met with Pabon, and gave him the key. After she left, she contacted the officers and told them that Pabon was alone in Apartment F-6. The officers received written consent to enter Apartment F-6 from Yager, and found and arrested Pabon there. They seized from him his cell phone and the key to Apartment H-22. Following his arrest, Pabon made statements prior to being advised of his Miranda rights indicating, in sum and substance, that he was residing at Apartment H-22.

II. Analysis

A. Statement Made to Law Enforcement Regarding Residence

1. Facts

Pabon was taken to police headquarters at approximately 11:40 a.m. on January 19, 2007. Mantei Test. at 100 (Dkt. No. 30). He was then placed in a holding cell while Detective David Mantei ("Mantei") completed paperwork to process Pabon's arrest. Id. at 41. The typical booking process involves the generation of paperwork while the individual is placed in a holding cell. Id. at 41. That paperwork consists of an incident report, a master name file, and other information, which is then taken to the desk sergeant so that he can begin the booking process. Id. After that, it is up to the detective or whoever is handling the case as to when or whether to bring the individual up for an interview. Id. Mantei testified that he always makes it a point to interview individuals. Id. at 42. In this case, Mantei had filled out the incident report and the advice of rights form when Pabon was brought up for his interview. Id. The advice of rights form is a standard form used within the department to give an individual their Miranda warnings prior to any interview. Id.

At approximately 3:00 or 3:30, Pabon was brought to an interview room. Id. at 43. On the top of the form is a section for pedigree information, including "name, birthdate, address, social security number, etcetera." Id. at 45. That information was obtained from Pabon. Id. Mantei asked Pabon his name, and he said Rafael Pabon. Id. at 47. Mantei then asked about a middle initial, which Pabon provided. Id. Mantei then asked Pabon for his date of birth, which Pabon provided. Id. Mantei next asked Pabon what his address was, and Pabon stated F-6. Id. Mantei then asked if Pabon was also staying at H-22, and Pabon answered in the affirmative. Id., Id. at 110.

After asking the rest of the questions and filling out the pedigree information, Mantei advised Pabon of his Miranda rights. Id. at 48-50. After Pabon stated that he understood everything, Mantei asked Pabin if he wanted to give a statement and talk about the pending issues. Id. at 50. Pabon "said no. He said something about, I have little time on parole and you guys can't put that gun on me." Id. at 51.

2. Relevant Law

A suspect in custody of the police must be advised of his basic constitutional rights before he is subjected to interrogation. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). However, the Supreme Court has since stated that "interrogation" does not include actions or questions "normally attendant to arrest and custody. . ." Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291, 301 (1980). Accordingly, the Supreme Court has stated that the "'routine booking question' exception [] exempts from Miranda's coverage questions to secure the 'biographical data necessary to complete booking or pretrial services.'" Pennsylvania v. Muniz, 496 U.S. 582, 601 (1990) (citation omitted). Therefore, questions that are "requested for record-keeping purposes only" would "fall outside the protections of Miranda and the answers thereto need not be suppressed." Id. at 601-02 (quotations omitted). Permissible questions are those that "appear reasonably related to the police's administrative concerns." Id.

The Second Circuit has expanded on this law and permitted pedigree questions--those "normally and reasonably related to police administrative concerns"--even if the information gathered turns out to be incriminating, and added that if the officer perceives that a specific piece of information provided is incorrect, "then it is not only reasonable, but arguably the officer's duty, to inquire further." Rosa v. McCray, 396 F.3d 210, 221-22 (2d Cir. 2005).

3. Analysis

The Defendant argues that this analysis is not relevant because the "booking" procedure ended when Mantei completed the Incident Report and the Master Name. Deft's Reply to Govt's Response at 1-2 (Dkt. No. 45). However, the distinction between a permissible and impermissible question does not depend on the filing of a piece of paper or some time-span the Defendant argues is sufficient for "booking." This formalistic distinction would allow for too much discretion and abuse during the "booking" process. Rather, the Second Circuit has made clear that the exception (perhaps more accurately described as a pedigree question exception) "does not mean that any question asked during the booking process falls within that ...

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