349 F.3d 457 (7th Cir. 2003), 02-2378, U.S. v. Reed

Docket Nº:02-2378
Citation:349 F.3d 457
Party Name:U.S. v. Reed
Case Date:November 13, 2003
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Page 457

349 F.3d 457 (7th Cir. 2003)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Mark A. REED, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 02-2378.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

November 13, 2003

Argued Jan. 14, 2003.

Page 458

[Copyrighted Material Omitted ]

Page 459

David Weisman (Argued), Office of the United States Attorney, Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

John A. Meyer (Argued), Chicago, IL, for Defendant-Appellant.

Page 460

Before EASTERBROOK, RIPPLE, and ROVNER, Circuit Judges.


Mark Reed entered a conditional guilty plea to a charge of conspiracy to distribute in excess of 50 kilograms of marijuana, 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), preserving his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress confessions he made five or six hours after what he contends was an illegal arrest. Although the government argued that Reed was not arrested until well after he confessed, the district court, working under the assumption that Reed had been arrested illegally before he made his confessions, concluded that his confessions were admissible because they were sufficiently attenuated from the purported illegal arrest and thus were acts of Reed's own free will. We vacate that decision and remand for further consideration.

Around 2:30 p.m. on July 17, 2000, Reed was traveling south on Interstate 57 near Peotone, Illinois, in a pickup truck bearing Texas license plates and pulling a horse trailer. The truck's owner, Thomas Martin, was also in the truck, although a third man, Alfonso Garnica, was driving. In fact, Garnica was driving at a healthy clip. Illinois State Trooper C.G. Fifield, who at the time was conducting drug interdiction surveillance, clocked Garnica traveling at 63 m.p.h. Because Illinois restricts vehicles pulling trailers to 55 m.p.h., Fifield initiated a traffic stop. After checking Garnica's background on the computer terminal in his police cruiser, Fifield learned that Garnica's driving privileges had been suspended. Fifield placed Garnica under arrest for driving on a suspended license, but Garnica posted bond on the spot and was immediately released. Fifield then checked Reed's and Martin's backgrounds to determine whether either was permitted to drive. Fifield learned that both men had valid licenses, but he also learned that both had been arrested previously for drug-related crimes.

Upon learning this information, Fifield asked the three men what they were doing in Illinois. Reed explained that Martin had come to Illinois to finalize his divorce, and that he was assisting Martin because Martin was in poor health. Fifield asked Reed whether he was into horses, but Reed replied that he was not. Reed recollected that Martin then told Fifield essentially the same story but added that he also had come to Illinois to buy horses. Fifield on the other hand recalled that Martin told him only that they had come to buy horses. Fifield then became suspicious when neither Martin nor Garnica could explain where or from whom they had purchased the horses. And Fifield became even more suspicious when he examined the exterior of the trailer and observed that its three entrances were padlocked, and that the rear ramp door was secured with three separate locks.

By this point, Martin had slid behind the wheel of the truck and was ready to drive away. Fifield claimed he told the three that they were free to leave, although Reed did not recall hearing him say this. Before they left, however, Fifield asked Martin whether there were any guns, drugs, or large quantities of cash in the vehicle. Martin said there was not, but Fifield asked for permission to search the truck and trailer. Martin consented. Fifield then directed Martin to drive to a nearby weigh station, where additional police awaited to assist in the search. The officers placed Reed, Martin, and Garnica in the weigh station building. At about 4:00 p.m., the officers discovered two pink cellophane-wrapped bundles containing $93,981 in United States currency hidden under some hay and plywood in the "gooseneck" of the horse trailer (the projecting

Page 461

front end of the trailer overlapping the truck bed). The officers then confronted Reed, Martin, and Garnica with the money and asked where it came from. Martin offered the curious explanation that the cash was the proceeds of an inheritance.

What transpired after this is significantly disputed. According to Reed, the police advised him that he was under arrest, placed him in handcuffs, transported him to State Police Headquarters, and read him Miranda warnings, which he acknowledged understanding by signing a form. The form indicates that Reed waived his rights at 4:19 p.m. Reed's claim that he was arrested around 4:00 p.m. was bolstered by an investigative report prepared by Special Agent Robert Babcock of the U.S. Customs Service. Babcock's report states that Reed, Martin, and Garnica were arrested immediately after the money was discovered in the trailer, and notes the time of Reed's arrest as 1600 hours.

In contrast to Reed's claims, Fifield asserted that Reed was neither arrested nor placed in handcuffs. Although he acknowledges that he gave Reed Miranda warnings, Fifield claimed that Reed accompanied him to police headquarters only "as a passenger." In support of Fifield's version of events, the government introduced Fifield's own police report, which contains no information indicating that Reed was arrested, but at the same time indicates that Garnica had been placed under arrest for driving on a suspended license. Fifield's testimony was also supported, somewhat surprisingly, by Babcock, who discredited his own report by claiming that he had no personal knowledge of what time Reed was arrested. Babcock claimed that he included the information about Reed's purported 4:00 p.m. arrest only because other police officers told him that Reed had been arrested at 4:00 p.m., and that he did not bother to check whether that information was accurate. Babcock blamed his failure to check the information in his report on time pressures and laziness.

After arriving at police headquarters sometime after 4:00 p.m., Reed recounted that his handcuffs (which Fifield insists he was not wearing) were removed, that he was placed in a conference room, and that he was not told that he was free to leave. At about 5:30 p.m., Officer Brian Hafner of the Bollingbrook, Illinois, Police Department, who was participating in the investigation as part of a multi-jurisdictional task force, entered the room and administered a second set of Miranda warnings. Reed again waived his rights. Reed and Hafner agree that at that point Hafner informed Reed that he was not under arrest, although Reed asserted that Hafner did not inform him that he was free to leave (Hafner does not remember). Reed then agreed to make a statement. Hafner, along with two other police officers and another Special Agent with the U.S. Customs Service interviewed Reed for approximately an hour, but Reed denied having any knowledge of the money found in the trailer or any involvement in criminal activity. The officers then left Reed alone in the room. Hafner said he believed the conference room was unlocked at all times. Reed asserted that he does not know if this was true because he never attempted to leave. Reed claimed that he did not try to open the door because he believed he was under arrest, so that attempting to leave would have been interpreted by the police as an escape.

After Reed sat alone in the conference room for approximately 45 minutes, several officers returned and initiated further questioning. Reed continued to deny involvement in any criminal activity, but this time he spoke more freely about his companions, admitting that several weeks earlier

Page 462

he had seen Martin with a large amount of cash and that he had previously suspected that Martin was involved in some sort of criminal activity. The officers then left again, this time leaving Reed alone in the room until about 8:35 p.m., when additional officers arrived to take his fingerprints. Hafner claimed that at this point he told Reed he was free to go. Reed claimed he did not recall Hafner telling him this. Reed claimed, however, that at this point he had a change of heart brought about by his hours of "solitary down time" in the conference room reflecting on the kind of trouble he might be in. His solitary reflection led him to consider cooperating with the police in order to limit his criminal exposure (at the time, Illinois was prosecuting Reed for a controlled substance violation) and, so he thought, receive a reward for providing information about drug traffickers. Reed announced to Hafner that he had decided to cooperate fully, and offered to show him a ranch near Joliet, Illinois, where Reed claimed that he, Martin, and Garnica had delivered a shipment of marijuana earlier in the day.

At about 9:00 p.m., Reed left for Joliet with Hafner and several other police officers. Reed claimed he was hand-cuffed; Hafner claimed that Reed was not restrained. During the drive, Reed further admitted that he was aware that Martin and Garnica had obtained 100 kilograms of marijuana in Mexico and smuggled it into Texas. Reed said he had met up with Martin and Garnica in Texas, and that the three had driven the drugs to the ranch using the trailer. After Reed showed the police the ranch, Hafner returned him to police headquarters around 10:00 p.m., and he made additional incriminating statements. Hafner insists that it was only after this that Reed was formally placed under arrest.

Claiming that he had been unlawfully arrested shortly after 4:00 p.m. when the police discovered the money in the trailer, Reed moved to suppress his confessions as fruit of the poisonous tree. The district court denied his motion, however, concluding that under Brown v. Illinois, 422 U.S. 590, 602, 95...

To continue reading