United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
J. BRADY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Motion to Suppress (Doc. 19)
brought by the Defendant, Jordan Hamlett. The Government
filed an Opposition (Doc. 21). An evidentiary hearing was
held on the Motion on March 9, 2017. Both parties submitted
post hearing memoranda (Docs. 27-1 and 30). For the reasons
stated below, the Defendant's Motion is DENIED.
Defendant is charged in a one count indictment with violating
42 U.S.C. § 408(a)(7)(b), false representation of a
social security number. In September 2016, the Defendant
allegedly attempted to obtain the federal tax information of
then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump from the U.S.
Department of Education and Internal Revenue Service using
the web application Federal Student Aid-Datashare. The
attempt was unsuccessful.
month later, on October 27, 2016, the Defendant was
interviewed by two special agents-Samuel Johnson
(“Johnson”) of the U.S. Treasury Inspector
General for Tax Administration and Glenn Methvyn
(“Methvyn”) of the FBI at the Embassy Suites
Hotel in Baton Rouge, LA. The Defendant has been working as a
private investigator for almost a decade. The agents posed as
potential clients to induce the Defendant to come to the
agents approached Hamlett as he was entering the lobby. They
were wearing suits and did not show the Defendant their
weapons. They identified themselves as law enforcement
officers and requested to speak with Hamlett about a
sensitive matter. The agents said that they could speak with
him in the lobby or they could speak in a hotel room. Hamlett
chose to be interviewed in the lobby. While Hamlett was
initially apprehensive, he relaxed after sitting down with
the agents. The agents advised Mr. Hamlett that he was free
to take breaks at any time. Although the agents did not
specifically tell Mr. Hamlett he was free to leave, they both
testified that he was free to leave at any time.
Additionally, the agents did not advise Mr. Hamlett of his
interview was friendly and conversational, and Mr. Hamlett
was cooperative the entire time. During the interview, Mr.
Hamlett volunteered that he was the individual who tried to
access then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump's tax
returns. He volunteered this information relatively quickly.
The agents had not even accused the Defendant of any
wrongdoing yet. Although the agents had a search warrant for
Hamlett's phone, they obtained Hamlett's consent to
search the phone prior to revealing the existence of the
warrant. In addition to getting Hamlett to sign a consent
form, they also served the search warrant on him in case he
decided to withdraw his consent.
interview lasted about two hours. After the first hour, Mr.
Hamlett went outside to smoke accompanied by one of the
agents. After the smoke break, Mr. Hamlett returned and
continued speaking with the officers. He took a second break
to retrieve his phone charger from his car accompanied by one
of the agents. He returned and continued speaking with the
agents. At the end of the interview, Mr. Hamlett asked some
questions about the next steps. The agents told him that he
had violated federal law, that the investigation was ongoing,
and that a search warrant was being executed at his
residence. Mr. Hamlett continued to tell the officers that he
wanted to fully cooperate.
days later, on October 31, 2016, Mr. Hamlett agreed to
participate in another interview. He met with two agents.
Following that second interview, Mr. Hamlett sent agents two
unsolicited e-mails. The e-mails explained in more detail why
he was trying access the tax returns.
Defendant argues that his statements should be suppressed for
two reasons. First, he argues that the agents violated his
Miranda rights at the October 27, 2016 interview.
Second, he argues that his confession / statements were
involuntary. The Court finds both of these arguments
unpersuasive. The agents were not required to
Mirandize the Defendant because he was not in
custody, and all of his statements were voluntary.
There was no Miranda violation because the Defendant
was not in custody during the
warnings only have to be given prior to “custodial
interrogation.” “Custodial interrogation is
questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a
person has been taken into custody.” A suspect is in
custody for Miranda purposes when he is formally
arrested, or when the restraint on his freedom of movement is
of the degree associated with a formal arrest.
a suspect is in custody is an objective
determination. A court must determine whether a
reasonable person would have felt at liberty to terminate the
interrogation and leave.“The reasonable person through
whom [the court] view[s] the situation must be neutral to the
environment and to the purposes of the investigation-that is,
neither guilty of criminal conduct and thus overly
apprehensive nor insensitive to the seriousness of the
circumstances.” The subjective views of both the
questioning agents and the suspect are
analyzing whether a suspect is in custody, a court must look
at the totality of the circumstances. Although no one factor is
determinative, a court should consider the following
non-exhaustive factors: (1) the location of the questioning;
(2) the accusatory, or non-accusatory, nature of the
questioning; (3) the length of the questioning; (4) the
amount of restraint on a defendant's physical movements;
and (5) ...