858 F.3d 870 (4th Cir. 2017), 15-4039, United States v. Giddins

Docket Nº:15-4039
Citation:858 F.3d 870
Opinion Judge:FLOYD, Circuit Judge
Party Name:UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee, v. MASTER GIDDINS, Defendant - Appellant
Attorney:Meghan Suzanne Skelton, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Appellant. Kenneth Sutherland Clark, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee. James Wyda, Federal Public Defender, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Baltimore, Maryland, fo...
Judge Panel:Before KING, AGEE, and FLOYD, Circuit Judges. Judge Floyd wrote the majority opinion, in which Judge King joined. Judge Agee wrote a dissenting opinion. AGEE, Circuit Judge, dissenting:
Case Date:June 06, 2017
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
SUMMARY

Defendant was convicted of bank robbery and conspiracy to commit bank robbery following a jury trial. The Fourth Circuit held that the statements defendant gave to police during the investigation of the crime was coerced, and that he did not voluntarily waive his Fifth Amendment rights. Furthermore, the error in introducing those statements was not harmless. The court need not address the... (see full summary)

 
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858 F.3d 870 (4th Cir. 2017)

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,

v.

MASTER GIDDINS, Defendant - Appellant

No. 15-4039

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

June 6, 2017

Argued January 25, 2017

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Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Baltimore. (1:14-cr-00116-WDQ-1). William D. Quarles, Jr., District Judge.

ARGUED:

Meghan Suzanne Skelton, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Greenbelt, Maryland, for Appellant.

Kenneth Sutherland Clark, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

James Wyda, Federal Public Defender, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellant.

Rod J. Rosenstein, United States Attorney, Debra L. Dwyer, Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Baltimore, Maryland, for Appellee.

Before KING, AGEE, and FLOYD, Circuit Judges. Judge Floyd wrote the majority opinion, in which Judge King joined. Judge Agee wrote a dissenting opinion.

OPINION

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FLOYD, Circuit Judge

Appellant Master Giddins was convicted of bank robbery and conspiracy to commit bank robbery following a jury trial. Part of the evidence used at trial was a videotaped statement Giddins gave to police during the investigation into the crime. On appeal, Giddins argues that the statement was coerced, and that he did not voluntarily waive his Fifth Amendment rights. We agree, and find that harmless error cannot save the conviction in light of this constitutional trial error. As a result, we reverse Giddins's conviction. We need not address the additional issues Giddins has raised regarding sentencing.

I.

A.

Over the course of three days in September 2013, three different bank robberies were committed in and around Baltimore, Maryland. The first robbery occurred on September 25, 2013, when someone wearing women's clothing and a black wig entered the M& T Bank in Baltimore, Maryland. That person handed the teller a note stating that the person had a bomb, and demanded that money be placed into a black and white polka dot cosmetic bag, which was handed to the teller. After obtaining the money, the robber fled the bank, was driven away in a waiting vehicle, and discarded a GPS tracker the teller had placed in the bag, to which wig fibers were attached. Police later determined that the robber was Appellant Master Giddins, that the getaway car was his silver Ford Focus, and that the getaway driver was Czekiah Fludd.

The next day, September 26, 2013, Giddins lent his car to Fludd and Ashley Fitz, whom Giddins was dating at the time. Fitz and Fludd drove to an Exxon station to obtain blank lottery tickets, on which one

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or both of them wrote a note similar to the note used in the September 25th robbery. They then drove to the First Mariner Bank in Owing Mills, Maryland, where Fitz entered the bank wearing a black wig and carrying a black and white polka dot cosmetic bag. After handing the bag and note to a teller, Fitz was given cash, and then ran from the bank. A construction worker saw Fitz and Fludd get into Giddins's car, and the Exxon station recorded the pair on video obtaining the blank lottery tickets.

The following day, September 27, 2013, Giddins again lent his car to Fitz and Fludd. They, along with a third person, Alexis Chandler, robbed the Baltimore County Savings Bank in unincorporated Baltimore County, Maryland. Fitz and Chandler both entered the bank wearing wigs, gave notes that they had a bomb, and demanded money. Fitz was given a dye pack along with her money, which exploded on the way back to the car. Fitz threw the bag out of the window, and additional items were discarded. When the three women went back to try to obtain the bags, they were stopped for matching the description of the bank robbery suspects. They were ultimately arrested, and the car was seized.

After their arrest, Fitz and Chandler provided statements to the police and admitted involvement in the September 27th robbery. Fitz additionally admitted to participating in the September 26th robbery and implicated Giddins. Fitz told police that the September 26th robbery was committed using Giddins's car, that Giddins had been present when both robberies were planned, and that Giddins had been involved in the September 25th robbery.

Based on the statements and evidence, Detective William Taylor of the Baltimore City Police Department applied for and obtained a warrant for Giddins's arrest from a Commissioner of the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore City. See Gov't Suppl. Authority Ltr., Attach. 1, ECF No. 65-2 [hereinafter, the " Warrant" ]. The Warrant was issued on October 3, 2013 at 10:20 am. Id.

B.

On or about October 4, 2013, Giddins was informed by Baltimore County Police that they had his car and that it had been used in a bank robbery. On the morning of October 4th, Giddins went to Baltimore County Police headquarters in order to retrieve his car. Upon arrival, Giddins was taken to an interview room by Detective Steve Morano of Baltimore County Police Department and an unknown member of the department. Giddins's interactions with police officers from the time he entered the interrogation room were recorded on video.1 The interrogation room was set up with an oblong, almost rectangular table on the side of the room with one long end of the table against the wall; there was one chair per free side of the table, Giddins was seated on one of the short sides, and Det. Morano sat on the long side. There were also two doors to the room--one immediately behind Giddins within his arm's reach, and one approximately five

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feet behind Det. Morano, outside the camera's view.

1.

After entering the room at 10:17:35 am and sitting down, Det. Morano copied down Giddins's license information. At 10:17:58, the unknown member of the department left the room through the door behind Giddins, which was also the door through which the three had entered the room. Upon leaving, he audibly locked the door, causing Giddins to turn his head toward the door.

Det. Morano asked Giddins to whom he lent his car, and Giddins replied that he lent it to Fludd. Det. Morano informed Giddins that Fludd was locked up, and continued asking details about when and why Giddins lent Fludd his car, the frequency with which Giddins would lend Fludd his car, and whether Fludd was going through any hard times. At 10:20:55, Giddins asked Det. Morano, " Am I in trouble?" to which Det. Morano replied, " No, you're here getting your car right?" and went on to explain that he was taking notes for a report because the car was used in a crime. At 10:21:25, Det. Morano got up to leave and informed Giddins that he had to complete some paperwork and would be right back. After checking that the door behind Giddins was in fact locked, Det. Morano left through the second door.

At 10:22:56, Det. Taylor from Baltimore City Police entered the room through the second door, explained that Det. Morano had become busy with something else, and that Det. Taylor would be taking over.2 Det. Taylor sat down in the seat vacated by Det. Morano, and began going over the same biographical information with Giddins. At 10:23:31, " Mr. Kim" entered the room, purportedly as a trainee detective observing the situation, and sat down at the remaining seat at the other short end of the table opposite Giddins.3 Det. Taylor then continued asking Giddins biographical information. Giddins asked if he could take a call at 10:27:02, and Det. Taylor told him that he could, but that it needed to be " real quick" and then everyone was going to " put their phones up." At 10:27:25, Det. Taylor placed his phone on the table and indicated that Giddins should do the same. Giddins put his phone on the table by him, and Det. Taylor picked it up, moving both of their phones to the end of the table farthest from Giddins and closest to Kim. Giddins phone began ringing again at 10:27:42, and Det. Taylor handed the phone back to Giddins, but told him to " go ahead and turn it off for a couple of minutes."

Det. Taylor produced a Miranda 4 waiver around 10:28:12 and told Giddins that they had to read him his rights because his car was involved in a crime. He told Giddins, " It doesn't mean you're under arrest, it doesn't mean you're being charged with anything. But since we're asking you questions, by law we have to read you your rights, OK? (pause) I'm kind of interested to find out what's going on with these three young ladies who decided to use your car in a crime." Det. Taylor passed the Miranda waiver to Giddins at 10:28:46 and instructed him, " What I want you to do is read each one out loud to me, stop at the end of each one. If you understand what it says, write the word 'yes' and put

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your initials next to it. If you have any questions, you can ask me, OK?" Giddins then began reading each right aloud, and when he confirmed that he understood, Det. Taylor instructed him to write " yes" next to the statement.

At the bottom of the form, after reading each individual right, the form required a full signature after the statement, " I have been advised of and understand my rights. I freely and voluntarily waive my rights and agree to talk with police without having an attorney present." Det. Taylor asked at 10:30:31, " You don't have any questions with us asking about your car, do you?" Giddins responded, " Yes. Is this the procedure for me to get my car back? Like--cause I feel like--," and Det. Taylor responded, " Yeah, we do, but like I said, your car was used in crimes that we need to--we need to dig in and find out...

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