United States v. Morgan

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 06-03-2013
  • Case #: 12-10056
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Nguyen for the Court; Circuit Judges Callahan and Fisher
  • Full Text Opinion

When an agent re-advises a suspect of their Miranda rights and does not question her or seek a waiver of her rights then these actions are not the functional equivalent of “interrogation” in violation of Miranda even if a picture is taken with the defendant and the contraband.

Shirley Anne Morgan was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Morgan drove a vehicle into the United States, the vehicle was searched, and agents found several bundles of drugs in a speaker box. In accordance with “common practice” Agent Armour processed Morgan with the marijuana in the same room so that he he could monitor it at all times. Agent Amour read Morgan the I-214 Form that contained the Miranda advisements and she signed it. Morgan had invoked the right to council, later she wanted to talk to agent Amour and said she didn't need an attorney. At that point agent Amour gave Morgan the opportunity to waive her right to council. Morgan’s picture was taken with the drugs behind her. Morgan appealed contending that the combination of the circumstances constituted the “functional equivalent” of interrogation. The Ninth Circuit held that agent Amour’s actions were not the functional equivalent of “interrogation” and of express questioning in violation of Miranda. Agent Armour re-advised Morgan of her Miranda rights with the I-214 Form which was part of the station’s standard processing procedure. Agent Armour made no effort to secure a waiver of Morgan’s rights or question her. While the panel did not condone the picture that was taken of Morgan with the drugs, it was not a determining factor in what constituted a functional equivalent of interrogation. Morgan was unable to show that agent Amour’s knew his actions were “reasonably likely to elicit an incrimination response.” Agent Amour needed to process Morgan in the same room as the drugs because he needed to monitor them. Agent Amour’s routine reading of I-214 Form was not unduly coercive. AFFIRMED.

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