U.S. District Court, WDNY
‘Miranda’ — Three-Hour Time Lapse
United States of America v. Cleveland
Background: The defendant was charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes. The defendant sought to suppress statements he made and two photographic identifications made by cooperating government witnesses.
Ruling: The District Court denied the motion. First, the court found the photo array was not unduly suggestive as both witnesses were instructed that the defendant may or may not have been depicted in the photographs contained in the array. Further, merely asking if the witnesses recognized the defendant in the array did not make the procedure unduly suggestive. Finally, the defendant was properly advised of his Miranda rights and voluntarily waived them. An officer’s failure to read the last question on the rights card in order to obtain an explicit answer from the defendant did not require suppression. Further, the failure to re-advise the defendant of his rights after a three hour period does not require suppression.
David L. Owens, Joseph S. Damelio and James A. Hobbs of the Wolford Law Firm for the defendant; Robert Marangola of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the plaintiff