FOR SUPERVISORY WRITS DIRECTED TO CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT
ORLEANS PARISH NO. 525-443, SECTION "E" Honorable
Keva M. Landrum-Johnson, Judge
A. Cannizzaro, Jr. DISTRICT ATTORNEY Mithun Kamath ASSISTANT
DISTRICT ATTORNEY ORLEANS PARISH COUNSEL FOR RELATOR/STATE OF
T. Fuller JOHN T. FULLER & ASSOCIATES COUNSEL FOR
composed of Judge Edwin A. Lombard, Judge Daniel L. Dysart,
Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano
COSSICH LOBRANO JUDGE.
the State of Louisiana ("State") seeks expedited
review of the district court's April 12, 2017 judgment
granting defendant, Rubin Robertson's
("Defendant") motion to suppress statements and
evidence. Finding that the district court abused its
discretion by granting Defendant's motion to suppress
statements and evidence, we grant expedited consideration,
grant the writ, and reverse the judgment.
is an Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office ("OPSO")
deputy. A fellow deputy, Deputy Lance Wade ("Deputy
Wade") received information that Defendant may be
bringing contraband into the Orleans Parish Prison
("OPP"). After monitoring inmate telephone calls,
which laid out a contraband delivery scheme, on May 6, 2015,
Deputy Wade began surveillance on Defendant.
same day, Deputy Wade and another deputy observed Defendant
arrive at OPP and park his vehicle. At that time, Deputy Wade
and the other Deputy escorted Defendant into their office for
the purpose of discussing their suspicions. Defendant soon
admitted to bringing contraband into OPP.
his admission, deputies immediately stopped the discussion
and read Defendant his Miranda rights. He
voluntarily signed a "waiver of rights" form and a
"consent to search" form for his vehicle. Boxes
were checked on the "waiver of rights" form
indicating that Defendant understood his Miranda
rights and wished to cooperate.
then told the deputies that on at least five occasions
between April 1, 2015 and May 6, 2015, he was compensated in
the amount of $500 for bringing tobacco and marijuana into
OPP. Defendant was contacted by an individual who would tell
him where and when to meet. At the meeting, the individual
would give Defendant the contraband and money. Defendant
would then re-package the contraband for introduction into
the jail. Finally, another individual in the prison would
contact Defendant to arrange for the delivery.
also said that contraband and the material that he used to
repackage the contraband could be found in his vehicle that
was parked outside, and a search of Defendant's vehicle
produced those items. The evidence recovered from inside a
bag in the vehicle included: green vegetable matter
consistent with marijuana, four oblong pills, sandwich bags,
saran wrap, a device for suctioning the contraband, rolling
paper, and packs of cigarettes.
district court's ruling on a motion to suppress a
statement is entitled to great weight and will not be
disturbed unless clearly unsupported by the evidence.
State v. Vigne, 2001-2940, p. 6 (La. 6/21/02), 820
So.2d 533, 537. A defendant's "statement during a
custodial interrogation is inadmissible at trial unless the
prosecution can establish that the accused 'in fact
knowingly and voluntarily waived Miranda rights'
when making the statement." Berghuis v.
Thompkins, 560 U.S. 370, 382, 130 S.Ct. 2250, 2260, 176
L.Ed.2d 1098 (2010) (internal quotations omitted). However,
in the case sub judice, we find Defendant was not in
custody when he was initially questioned.
obligation to provide Miranda warnings attaches only
when a person is questioned by law enforcement after he has
been taken "into custody or otherwise deprived of his
freedom of action in any significant way." Miranda
v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 1612, 16
L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). Custody is decided by two distinct
inquiries: an objective assessment of the circumstances
surrounding the interrogation to determine whether there is a
formal arrest or restraint on freedom of the degree
associated with formal arrest; and an evaluation of how a
reasonable person in the position of the interviewee would
"gauge the breadth of his freedom of action."
Stansbury v. California, 5 U.S. 318, 322-325, 114
S.Ct. 1526, 1528-30, 128 L.Ed.2d 293 (1994) (citations
omitted). These inquiries look at the totality of the
circumstances surrounding the investigation, "including
any circumstance that 'would have affected how a
reasonable person' in the suspect's position
'would perceive his or her freedom to leave, ' "
but ignoring the "subjective views harbored by either
the interrogating officers or the person being
questioned." J.D.B. v. North Carolina, 564 U.S.
261, 270-71, 131 S.Ct. 2394, 2402, 180 L.Ed.2d 310 (2011)
Defendant was escorted to the interview, he was not placed in
handcuffs and was free to leave at any time. He agreed to the
interview voluntarily and the record does not ...