Leon v. Wainwright, 83-5609

Decision Date18 June 1984
Docket NumberNo. 83-5609,83-5609
Citation734 F.2d 770
PartiesJean LEON, # 072574, Petitioner-Appellant, v. Louie L. WAINWRIGHT, Secretary, Dept. of Corrections, State of Florida, William French Smith, Attorney General, Respondents-Appellees.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit

Bennett H. Brummer, Public Defender, Elliot H. Scherker, Asst. Public Defender, 11th Judicial Circuit, Miami, Fla., for petitioner-appellant.

Paul Mendelson, Asst. Atty. Gen., Michael Neimand, Miami, Fla., for respondent-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Before FAY and ANDERSON, Circuit Judges, and MARKEY *, Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit.

FAY, Circuit Judge:

Jean Leon was convicted of kidnapping and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony. He was sentenced to fifteen years of incarceration. After exhausting his state remedies Leon filed a petition for habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2254 (1980). The district judge denied the petition. The only issue on appeal is whether Leon's post-arrest confession should have been suppressed as the product of earlier police threats and physical violence. We find the trial judge properly admitted the post-arrest statement. The facts in this case clearly indicate a break in the stream of events which dissipated the coercion surrounding the first statement and made the second confession voluntary. We affirm the district court's denial of relief.

FACTS

Louis Gachelin, a Miami cabdriver, picked up two passengers, Jean Leon and Frantz Armand, at the Miami International Airport and drove them to an apartment complex. Upon their arrival at the complex, the passengers requested that the driver carry their suitcases inside the building. As the driver approached the door of the apartment, he was forced at gunpoint to enter the apartment and remain quiet. They undressed and bound him. Leon and Armand then began making numerous phone calls to the driver's family attempting to arrange a ransom. As soon as they received the first phone call, the Gachelin family contacted the police. Frank Gachelin, the cabdriver's brother, who was working with the police, agreed to meet Leon at the Northside Shopping Center and to bring $4,000 in exchange for his brother's release.

Leon and Frank Gachelin met in the shopping center parking lot at 2:00 a.m. During the confrontation Leon drew a gun on Frank. The police officers, who had accompanied Frank to the meeting, immediately arrested Leon and demanded that he tell them where he was holding Gachelin. When he refused to tell them the location, "he was set upon by several of the officers." Leon v. State, 410 So.2d 201, 202 (Fla.3d DCA 1982). "They threatened and physically abused him by twisting his arm behind his back and choking him until he revealed where Louis [Gachelin] was being held." Id. The officers went to the apartment, rescued Gachelin and arrested Armand.

Meanwhile, Leon was taken to the police station. He was questioned there by detectives who had neither been involved in the threats and use of force at the scene of his arrest nor witnessed it. After being thoroughly informed of his rights and signing a Miranda waiver form, he gave full oral and written confessions of the crime. This entire process was concluded about five hours after his arrest.

Leon was charged with kidnapping, robbery, aggravated battery, and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony. After a jury trial he was convicted of kidnapping and possession of a firearm during commission of a felony and was acquitted of the other charges. He was sentenced to fifteen years of incarceration. The Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment. Leon v. State, 410 So.2d 201 (Fla.3d DCA 1982). The Supreme Court of Florida denied certiorari and Leon then filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sec. 2254 (1980). The district judge denied the petition. Leon asserts that the district judge erred in denying his petition because his due process rights were violated by the admission into evidence of his post-arrest statement which was a product of a prior, physically-coerced and inadmissible statement. We do not agree.

VOLUNTARINESS OF CONFESSION

The Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits prosecutorial use of an involuntary confession. Brooks v. Florida, 389 U.S. 413, 415, 88 S.Ct. 541, 542, 19 L.Ed.2d 643 (1967); Chambers v. Florida, 309 U.S. 227, 238, 60 S.Ct. 472, 477, 84 L.Ed. 716 (1940); Brown v. Mississippi, 297 U.S. 278, 286, 56 S.Ct. 461, 465, 80 L.Ed. 682 (1936). The applicable standard for determining whether a confession is voluntary is whether, taking into consideration the totality of the circumstances, the statement is the product of the accused's "free and rational" choice. Martinez v. Estelle, 612 F.2d 173, 177 (5th Cir.1980), 1 citing, Greenwald v. Wisconsin, 390 U.S. 519, 521, 88 S.Ct. 1152, 1154, 20 L.Ed.2d 77, 79 (1968). This means that it "must not be extracted by any sort of threats or violence, nor obtained by any direct or implied promises, however slight, nor by the exertion of any improper influence...." Bram v. United States, 168 U.S. 532, 542-43, 18 S.Ct. 183, 187, 42 L.Ed. 568 (1897).

This case involves the voluntariness of two different confessions. Leon made his first statement at the time of his arrest in the shopping center parking lot when the police threatened and physically abused him. 2 He was then taken to the police station. After being informed of his Miranda rights and signing a waiver, he gave a second statement to the police. He asserts that this police-station statement was involuntary, and therefore inadmissible, because it was a direct result of the improper police activity at the time of his arrest.

The United States Supreme Court has never held that an early inadmissible statement automatically precludes the admission into evidence of later voluntary statements. United States v. Bayer, 331 U.S. 532, 541, 67 S.Ct. 1394, 1398, 91 L.Ed. 1654 (1947). Instead it has established that in cases involving multiple confessions courts may hold some of the confessions involuntary and others not only if such a distinction is justified by a sufficiently isolating break in the stream of events. See, e.g., United States v. Bayer, 331 U.S. at 540, 67 S.Ct. at 1398, 91 L.Ed. 1654 (holding valid second confession made under notably different circumstances six months after first confession which violated McNabb rule); Lyons v. Oklahoma, 322 U.S. 596, 604, 64 S.Ct. 1208, 1213, 88 L.Ed. 1481 (1944) (holding valid second confession made in new, noncoercive environment to different questioners, a half day after first admittedly involuntary confession). We must therefore determine whether, under the circumstances present in this case, it can be found that the coercion surrounding the first statement had been sufficiently dissipated so as to make the second statement voluntary. See, e.g., Darwin v. Connecticut, 391 U.S. 346, 88 S.Ct. 1488, 20 L.Ed.2d 630 (1968); Leyra v. Denno, 347 U.S. 556, 74 S.Ct. 716, 98 L.Ed. 948 (1953).

In Lyons v. Oklahoma, 322 U.S. 596, 64 S.Ct. 1208, 88...

To continue reading

Request your trial
35 cases
  • Parker v. Turpin
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Georgia
    • 13 Agosto 1999
    ...by Detective Wynn, Agent McGinnis or Agent Ingram before Petitioner made the first inculpatory statement. Compare, Leon v. Wainwright, 734 F.2d 770 (11th Cir.1984) (petitioner's second inculpatory statement given to second set of law enforcement officers was voluntary although first stateme......
  • People v. Douglas
    • United States
    • California Supreme Court
    • 2 Abril 1990
    ...completely outside the reach of his earlier tormentors and had no reason to anticipate further mistreatment. (See Leon v. Wainwright (11th Cir.1984) 734 F.2d 770, 772-773 [subsequent confession found voluntary under Lyons v. Oklahoma, supra, 322 U.S. 596, 64 S.Ct. 1208, when police obtained......
  • U.S. v. Mendoza-Cecelia
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
    • 24 Junio 1992
    ...v. Dugger, 823 F.2d 1439, 1443 (11th Cir.1987), opinion withdrawn in unrelated part, 833 F.2d 250 (1987); see also Leon v. Wainwright, 734 F.2d 770, 772-73 (11th Cir.1984). A court determines whether a subsequent confession has been tainted by considering " 'the time that passes between con......
  • US ex rel. Holland v. McGinnis
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois
    • 12 Febrero 1991
    ...were made to unfamiliar police officers at the Des Plaines station, and he did not thereafter repeat his confession. Leon v. Wainwright, 734 F.2d 770 (11th Cir.1984) involved an atypical circumstance of police coercion. Officers initially used force and threats to ascertain the location of ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT