922 F.2d 1343 (8th Cir. 1990), 90-5290, United States v. Griffin

Docket Nº:90-5290MN.
Citation:922 F.2d 1343
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Leonard David GRIFFIN, Appellant.
Case Date:December 28, 1990
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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922 F.2d 1343 (8th Cir. 1990)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,


Leonard David GRIFFIN, Appellant.

No. 90-5290MN.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

December 28, 1990

Submitted Nov. 13, 1990.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Daniel M. Scott, Minneapolis, Minn., for appellant.

Nathan P. Petterson, Minneapolis, Minn., for appellee.

Before ARNOLD and MAGILL, Circuit Judges, and BATTEY, [*] District Judge.

BATTEY, District Judge.

Leonard David Griffin (Griffin) appeals from a final judgment entered in the District Court for the District of Minnesota. Griffin entered a conditional plea of guilty to one count of armed bank robbery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2113(a) and 2113(d) and one count of use of a firearm "during and in relation to" a crime of violence in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c)(1).

Griffin moved the district court to suppress inculpatory statements made to agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) during questioning at his home because the interrogating agents failed to advise him of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). The district court referred the matter to the Honorable Bernard P. Becker, United States Magistrate, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. Sec. 636. The district court considered the matter de novo, adopted the findings and conclusions of the magistrate, and denied the motion on the ground that Griffin was not in custody for purposes of Miranda at the time the statements were made. Griffin appeals the district court's denial of the motion to suppress. We reverse and remand the case for trial.



On February 25, 1989, the Twin Cities Federal Savings and Loan Association (TCF) was robbed by two men armed with a shotgun and possibly a handgun. One of the robbers, a black male, vaulted the teller counter and collected the money while his accomplice, a white male, stood near the entrance of the bank with the shotgun. A shotgun, two jackets, and a hat were found outside the bank after the robbery. In the ensuing investigation, F.B.I. agents Richard Waldie and Fred Tremper learned that shortly after the robbery, a Yellow Cab had picked up a single, black male, with no coat or jacket, in the vicinity of TCF who was taken to the Normandy Inn Hotel in downtown Minneapolis. The passenger told the cab driver to wait outside while he went upstairs to Room 461 in order to obtain the cab fare.

Acting on this lead the F.B.I. interviewed the hotel clerk and learned that the room had been rented to a woman named Carol Brewer. A search of the wastebasket in the room turned up a business card from Charles Bennett, a car salesman for Lupient Buick in Minneapolis. Bennett informed the F.B.I. agents that Brewer and a white male named Mark Chapman had taken a dark red Mazda RX-7 sportscar for a test drive the day of the robbery. Brewer and Chapman had not returned the car, so Bennett initiated his own investigation to determine the whereabouts of the vehicle. Through his investigation Bennett spoke with Chapman's wife, Jeanine Chapman, who provided Bennett with a photo of Chapman. The F.B.I. placed this photo in a

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photo array which was shown to the clerk at the Normandy Hotel. The hotel clerk identified Chapman as a person connected with Room 461 on the date of the robbery. In addition, the F.B.I. established that a car bearing a description similar to the stolen Mazda RX-7 had been seen in a parking lot near the scene of the robbery.

Pursuing the investigation on March 1, 1989, the F.B.I. interviewed Chapman's wife, who provided information about an associate of her husband, appellant Griffin, whom she knew as Junior Iron Moccasin. Mrs. Chapman's description of Griffin fit the description of the TCF robber who had vaulted the counter and collected the money. She provided the agents with Griffin's address and phone number.

Possessing this information, the F.B.I. agents suspected that Griffin was connected with the robbery and they decided to speak with him. The agents called the telephone number provided by Chapman's wife to arrange an interview. Griffin's stepfather answered the phone and informed the agents that Griffin would be home early that evening. Agents Waldie and Tremper proceeded to Griffin's home, arriving at 7 p.m., and were invited into the living room by Griffin's stepfather. The purpose of the interview was to determine what Griffin knew of the bank robbery. The officers did not intend to arrest him at that time. The agents waited in the living room until 8:15 p.m. when Griffin was heard approaching the house outside. The agents moved to the hall near the front door to meet Griffin as he entered the house. Waldie and Tremper identified themselves as F.B.I. agents investigating a bank robbery and informed Griffin that they needed to speak with him. At that point, before any other words were spoken, Griffin stated, "The gun wasn't loaded."

The agents explained to Griffin's parents that it was necessary for them to speak to Griffin in private and, accordingly, the three went into the dining room and sat down. The agents did not draw their guns, handcuff Griffin, or place him under formal arrest. Griffin's parents retired to the upstairs of the house where they remained throughout the course of the questioning.

Neither of the agents informed Griffin that he was not under arrest, that he was free to request the agents to leave without speaking to them, nor did they inform him of his Miranda rights. Twice during the two-hour interview Griffin asked to obtain cigarettes from other places in the house and each time Agent Waldie required that Agent Tremper escort him. Griffin was told he was to stay in their view at all times. The agents used this procedure to ensure their personal safety because a weapon had been used in the course of the robbery, although this was not explained to Griffin at the time.

During the interview, Griffin appeared nervous, "sort of choked up for words" and "fearful" of the agents. In the course of the questioning Griffin implicated himself and Chapman in the robbery. The agents questioned Griffin for approximately two hours. At the conclusion of the interview the agents placed Griffin under arrest. Griffin was then transported to the F.B.I. office where, three hours after his initial confrontation with the agents, he was advised of his Miranda rights for the first time.

Defendant Leonard David Griffin and co-defendant Mark John Chapman were indicted in a four-count indictment alleging the crime of robbery of a federally insured savings and loan institution through use of force and violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Secs. 2113(a) and (d) (Count I); conspiracy to commit bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 371 (Count II); the use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 924(c)(1) (Count III); and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, namely Mark John Chapman, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Secs. 922(g) and 924(a)(1)(B) (Count IV). Griffin's conditional plea was to Count I and Count III. 1

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  1. General

    The basic rule of Miranda is that an individual must be advised of the right to be free from compulsory self-incrimination, and the right to the assistance of an attorney, any time a person is taken into custody for questioning. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. at 444, 86 S.Ct. at 1612. The Miranda court undertook a lengthy examination of the physical and psychological interrogation practices employed by law enforcement authorities during the custodial interrogation of criminal suspects and concluded that, absent the procedural safeguard of an adequate warning, those practices involve inherently coercive pressures which compel an individual to make self-incriminating statements. Miranda, 384 U.S. at 439, 86 S.Ct. at 1609. Miranda accordingly requires that a warning as to the availability of the privilege against self-incrimination and to the assistance of counsel be issued prior to questioning whenever a suspect is (1) interrogated (2) while in custody. 2 Custody determinations are obviously mixed questions of law and fact which require that the entire circumstances of the particular case be carefully assessed. Carter, 884 F.2d at 371. It is undisputed that Griffin was being interrogated within the meaning of the Miranda rule. See Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291, 301, 100 S.Ct. 1682, 1690, 64 L.Ed.2d 297 (1980) (interrogation includes direct questioning or any practice reasonably likely to evoke an incriminating response from a suspect). Thus, in examining whether Miranda has application to this case, the court must examine whether or not the interrogation of Griffin was custodial. The court finds that this was a custodial interrogation.

  2. In Custody

    Custody occurs either upon formal arrest or under any other circumstances where the suspect is deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way. Miranda, 384 U.S. at 444, 86 S.Ct. at 1612; Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420, 429, 104 S.Ct. 3138, 3144-45, 82 L.Ed.2d 317 (1984). 3 In determining whether a suspect is "in custody" at a particular time we examine the extent of the physical or psychological restraints placed on the suspect during interrogation in light of whether a "reasonable person in the suspect's position would have understood his situation" to be one of custody. Berkemer, 468 U.S. at 442, 104 S.Ct. at 3151; United States v. Carter, 884 F.2d 368, 370 (8th Cir.1989). If Griffin believed his freedom of action had been curtailed to a "degree associated with formal arrest," and that belief was reasonable from an objective viewpoint, then Griffin was being...

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