United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
G. LARIMER, United States District Judge.
Howard E. Brooks (“Brooks”) is named in a six
count indictment relating to the receipt, possession and
distribution of child pornography. Brooks filed several
motions. This Court referred all pretrial motions and other
pretrial matters to United States Magistrate Judge Marian W.
Payson pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b).
motion now pending before this Court relates to statements
Brooks allegedly made to agents of the FBI on the date a
search warrant was executed at his residence at 116 Lexington
Avenue, Elmira, New York on July 14, 2015, as well as
statements Brooks allegedly made on the day he was arrested,
August 28, 2015.
Judge Payson conducted a suppression hearing on the motion
and took testimony. After the hearing and after receiving
submissions from the parties, Magistrate Judge Payson issued
a document entitled Decision and Order and Report and
Recommendation (Dkt. #43). It was the Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation that the District Court deny the
motion to suppress. Brooks, through counsel, duly filed
Objections (Dkt. #45) to the Magistrate Judge's Report
and Recommendation. The Court has reviewed the Magistrate
Judge's Report and Recommendation, the Objections filed,
as well as the 83 page Transcript (Dkt. #38) of the
suppression hearing which occurred on August 23, 2016.
suppression hearing, only one witness testified, FBI Agent
Christopher Mayfield. Defendant Brooks did not testify at the
suppression hearing and no other witnesses were presented by
the defense, although defense counsel did refer the
Magistrate Judge to an affidavit that the defendant had
submitted as an attachment to defense counsel's original
motion to suppress (Dkt. #31, Ex. A).
14, 2015 Statements.
seeks to suppress certain oral statements that he made to FBI
Agent Mayfield at Brooks's residence during the execution
of a search warrant on July 14, 2015.
contends that he never received the Miranda warnings
and the Government concedes that such warnings were not
given. The Government argued, and Magistrate Judge Payson
agreed, that no warnings need be given because Brooks was not
“in custody” at the time statements were made to
Agent Mayfield. Since there was no “custodial
interrogation” the Miranda warnings were not
Report and Recommendation, Magistrate Judge Payson discussed
at length the facts developed at the suppression hearing
concerning the circumstances surrounding the conversation
with Brooks on July 14, 2015. In addition, the Magistrate
Judge set forth a thorough analysis of the legal principles
relating to interrogation of suspects by law enforcement
officers. After reviewing the transcript of the suppression
hearing, which contained the examination of Agent Mayfield, I
concur with Magistrate Judge Payson's analysis of the
facts which occurred on July 14, 2015, as well as the
controlling legal principles.
mentioned, Agent Mayfield was the only witness at the
hearing, since Brooks presented no witnesses and elected not
to testify himself. Mayfield testified that he told Brooks
that he was not arrested, could speak with the agents if he
wished to do so and that he was free to move about the
residence. Agent Mayfield and another agent talked with
Brooks in the laundry room of the residence while the search
warrant was being executed in other parts of the house.
Magistrate Judge found Mayfield's testimony credible
concerning the statements made to Brooks and circumstances
surrounding the conversation. Magistrate Judge Payson
correctly noted defendant's affidavit but recognized that
such an item is a “poor substitute for live testimony,
which is the subject of cross examination, ” citing
United States v. Nicholson, 216 WL 3970927, *3 (WDNY
2016); United States Riedman, 214 WL 713552, *16
Judge Payson made several findings and concluded that Brooks
was not in custody when he made oral statements to Agent
Mayfield. After perusing the transcript of the suppression
hearing, the Court believes that those findings are clearly
supported by the record.
interview was not at the “station house” but in
defendant's home. Discussions with a person at his own
home are less subject to coercion and are different from
situations where a person has been removed to a police
facility. Mayfield's testimony was that Brooks never
asked to leave, never sought food or beverages and was not
held against his will. Specifically, the Magistrate Judge
found (Report and Recommendation, p. 17) that Brooks
willingly accompanied the agents to the laundry room and he
was “explicitly and clearly” informed that he did
not have to speak to the agents, that he was not under arrest
and was free to leave. Magistrate Judge Payson further
concluded that a reasonable person in Brooks's position
would have understood that he was free to leave and had no
obligation to discuss matters with the agents.
Brooks was arrested after the interview by state law
enforcement officials, that did not relate to the federal
charges but was a mental hygiene arrest under state law
because Brooks had threatened to harm himself because of ...