557 F.2d 541 (6th Cir. 1977), 76-1576, United States v. Brown

Docket Nº:76-1576.
Citation:557 F.2d 541
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Hayward Leslie BROWN, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:June 14, 1977
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Page 541

557 F.2d 541 (6th Cir. 1977)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Hayward Leslie BROWN, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 76-1576.

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

June 14, 1977

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Argued Oct. 20, 1976.

Rehearing Denied Aug. 16, 1977.

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Kenneth M. Mogill, Halpern, Mogill, Bush, Posner, Weiss & McFadden, Detroit, Mich. (Court-appointed CJA), for defendant-appellant.

Philip Van Dam, U. S. Atty., Gordon S. Gold, Frederick S. Van Tiem, Detroit, Mich., for plaintiff-appellee.

Before CELEBREZZE, McCREE [*] and ENGEL, Circuit Judges.

CELEBREZZE, Circuit Judge.

On January 12, 1973, a clinic of the Planned Parenthood Association located near the campus of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, was firebombed. Suspects fleeing the scene fired upon university police officers. Appellant, Hayward Leslie Brown, was apprehended in the vicinity of the clinic by Detroit police officers responding to a radio call that police officers were under fire. At the time of his arrest, Appellant and two others were subjects of a massive manhunt because of their suspected involvement in gun battles with police on December 4 and 29, 1972, which had left one officer dead and several wounded. In the back seat of the patrol car on the way to police headquarters, Appellant confessed to the firebombing.

On April 10, 1974, a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Michigan indicted Appellant for possession of three "Molotov cocktails" in violation of 26 U.S.C. §§ 5845, 5861(d) and 5871 (1970), and for damaging by means of an explosive device an institution receiving federal financial assistance in

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violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(f) (1970). Appellant moved to suppress the confession. After holding an evidentiary hearing, the District Court ruled that the confession was voluntary under the totality of the circumstances and denied the suppression motion. The Court also denied a motion for rehearing. At trial, Appellant was convicted by a jury on both counts and was sentenced to eight years on each offense, to run concurrently.

Prior to the federal prosecution, Appellant had been tried in state court on arson charges stemming from the firebombing incident. The arson indictment was dismissed after the state judge concluded that the confession was involuntary and ordered it suppressed. 1 Appellant contends that the state court's finding of involuntariness estopped the District Court from holding an evidentiary hearing and from finding the confession voluntary. The District Court ruled that it was not bound by the state court's decision and that it was required to render an independent judgment on the voluntariness of the confession. We agree. Appellant was being prosecuted on a federal indictment for violating federal criminal statutes. The question of whether a confession should be admitted in a federal prosecution is a matter of federal law and district courts are not bound by the decisions of state courts in related cases. See Elkins v. United States, 364 U.S. 206, 223-24, 80 S.Ct. 1437, 4 L.Ed.2d 1669 (1960); United States v. Beigel, 370 F.2d 751, 756 (2d Cir. 1967). See also Boyle v. United States, 395 F.2d 413, 415 (9th Cir. 1970). This is not a habeas corpus case where a petitioner is seeking review of a state conviction so the standards enunciated in Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293, 83 S.Ct. 745, 9 L.Ed.2d 770 (1963), and 28 U.S.C. § 2254 (1970), are not applicable. Even in habeas corpus cases, federal courts are required to make an independent determination on the ultimate issue of the voluntariness of a confession. Davis v. North Carolina, 384 U.S. 737, 741-42, 86 S.Ct. 1761, 16 L.Ed.2d 895 (1966). See LaVallee v. Delle Rose, 410 U.S. 690, 93 S.Ct. 1203, 35 L.Ed.2d 637 (1973).

The District Court found that Appellant was given Miranda warnings so the admissibility of the confession turns on whether it was voluntary. Davis v. North Carolina, 384 U.S. at 740, 86 S.Ct. 1761. For standards of voluntariness we refer to a pre-Miranda line of cases beginning with Brown v. Mississippi, 297 U.S. 278, 56 S.Ct. 461, 80 L.Ed. 682 (1936), which held that the admission of an involuntary confession in a criminal prosecution violates due process. 2 Appellate courts have a duty to examine

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the entire record and make an independent determination on the voluntariness of a confession. Davis v. North Carolina, 384 U.S. at 741-42, 86 S.Ct. 1761; United States v. Dye, 508 F.2d 1226, 1232 (6th Cir. 1974). In determining whether a confession was voluntary, courts focus on the state of mind of the accused at the time the confession was made. See, e. g., Culombe v. Connecticut, 367 U.S. 568, 602, 81 S.Ct. 1860, 6 L.Ed.2d 1037 (1961). The central inquiry of a court considering the voluntariness of a confession is whether the confession was the product of free and rational choice:

The ultimate test remains that which has been the only clearly established test in Anglo-American courts for two hundred years: the test of voluntariness. Is the confession the product of an essentially free and unconstrained choice by its maker? If it is, if he has willed to confess, it may be used against him. If it is not, if his will has been overborne and his capacity for self-determination critically impaired, the use of his confession offends due process.

Culombe v. Connecticut, 367 U.S. at 602, 81 S.Ct. at 1879. See also Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218, 225-26, 93 S.Ct. 2041, 36 L.Ed.2d 854 (1973). 3 In deciding whether an accused's will has been overborne, courts have looked to the totality of the circumstances surrounding the confession, both the characteristics of the accused and the details of the interrogation, and determined their psychological impact on an accused's ability to resist pressures to confess. Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. at 226, 93 S.Ct. 2041; Culombe v. Connecticut, 367 U.S. at 602, 81 S.Ct. 1860. 4 The

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voluntariness of a confession is a mixed question of law and fact. Justice Frankfurter once described the notion of voluntariness as an "amphibian" because "(i)t purports at once to describe an internal psychic state and to characterize the state for legal purposes." Culombe v. Connecticut, 367 U.S. at 605, 81 S.Ct. at 1880. The unique mixture of law and fact involved in a voluntariness determination is reflected in our standard of review. The Government contends that we may only overturn the District Court's conclusion that the confession was voluntary if we find clear error. That statement is not entirely correct. Justice Frankfurter separated a court's inquiry on voluntariness into three phases:

The inquiry whether, in a particular case, a confession was voluntarily or involuntarily made involves, at the least, a three-phased process. First, there is the business of finding the crude historical facts, the external, "phenomenological" occurrences and events surrounding the confession. Second, because the concept of "voluntariness" is one which concerns a mental state, there is the imaginative recreation, largely inferential, of internal "psychological" fact. Third, there is the application to this psychological fact of standards for judgment informed by the larger legal conceptions ordinarily characterized as rules of law but which, also, comprehend both induction from, and anticipation of, factual circumstances.

Culombe v. Connecticut, 367 U.S. at 603, 81 S.Ct. at 1879.

As to the first phase, findings of historical fact, great deference is afforded the trier of fact because of its ability to observe the witnesses' demeanor. Resolution of testimonial conflicts and specific findings of fact by the trial court will not be disturbed on appeal unless it is clear from the record that an error has been committed. Id. at 603, 81 S.Ct. 1860. In reviewing the second and third phases of the inquiry, determining the mental state of the accused and assessing its legal significance, appellate courts are granted greater leeway:

The second and third phases of the inquiry determination of how the accused reacted to the external facts, and of the legal significance of how he reacted although distinct as a matter of abstract analysis, become in practical operation inextricably interwoven. This is so, in part, because the concepts by which language expresses an otherwise unrepresentable mental reality are themselves generalizations importing preconceptions about the reality to be expressed. It is so, also, because the apprehension of mental states is almost invariably a matter of induction, more or less imprecise, and the margin of error which is thus introduced into the finding of "fact" must be accounted for in the formulation and application of the "rule" designed to cope with such classes of facts. The notion of "voluntariness" is itself an amphibian. It purports at once to describe an internal psychic state and to characterize that state for legal purposes. Since the characterization is the very issue "to review which this Court sits," Watts v. Indiana, 338 U.S. 49, 51, (69 S.Ct. 1347, 1348, 93 L.Ed. 1801) (opinion of Frankfurter, J.), the matter of description, too, is necessarily open here. See Lisenba v. California, 314 U.S. 219, 237-238, (62 S.Ct. 280, 290, 86 L.Ed. 166); Ward v. Texas, 316 U.S. 547, 550, (62 S.Ct. 1139, 1141, 86 L.Ed. 1663); Haley v. Ohio, 332 U.S. 596, 599, (68 S.Ct. 302, 303, 92 L.Ed. 224); Malinski v. New York, 324 U.S. 401, 404, 417, (65 S.Ct. 781, 783, 89 L.Ed. 1029).

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No more restricted scope of review would suffice adequately to protect federal constitutional rights. For the mental state of involuntariness upon which the due process question turns can never be affirmatively established other than circumstantially that is, by...

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