Quinn v. Com.

Decision Date04 November 1997
Docket NumberNo. 2393-96-2,2393-96-2
Citation492 S.E.2d 470,25 Va.App. 702
PartiesLeslie Charles QUINN v. COMMONWEALTH of Virginia. Record
CourtVirginia Court of Appeals

Shanon S. Echols, Charlottesville, for appellant.

(Richard Cullen, Attorney General; Daniel J. Munroe, Assistant Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

Present: MOON, C.J., and WILLIS and ELDER, JJ.

ELDER, Judge.

Leslie Charles Quinn (appellant) appeals his convictions of two counts of grand larceny. He contends the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress two incriminating statements he made at different times to investigators from separate jurisdictions. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand.


In the early morning hours of March 18, 1996, a magistrate issued a warrant to search appellant's home in order to seize evidence related to numerous burglaries appellant was suspected of having committed. Investigator Jack Elliott and other officers of the Goochland County Sheriff's Office executed the warrant. The officers seized numerous items they believed were stolen property and arrested appellant. Following his arrest, appellant asked to meet with an attorney before communicating further with any of the officers.

On March 19, Keith Waldrop was appointed to represent appellant on one charge of breaking and entering a trailer in Goochland County.

The record indicates that appellant remained in custody continuously from the date of his arrest through his sentencing on September 27. Prior to April 9, Investigator Elliott approached appellant "once or twice" and asked if he was "ready to make a statement." Appellant responded by telling the investigator that he "wanted [his] attorney present before [he] made any kind of a statement." The record does not indicate that appellant ever met with Mr. Waldrop during this time.

In the morning of April 9, Investigator Elliott visited appellant in his jail cell and told appellant that he would "like to ask him a few questions." The investigator moved appellant from his cell to a vacant office for the meeting. Investigator Elliott began the meeting by advising appellant of his Miranda rights. The investigator then asked appellant if he "had a lawyer appointed to him yet." Appellant told the investigator that Mr. Waldrop had been appointed to represent him. Investigator Elliott explained to appellant that Mr. Waldrop had been appointed to represent him on a single charge of breaking and entering in Goochland County and not with regard to other charges or "possible charges" in Goochland or other counties. The investigator told appellant that he did not intend to speak with appellant about the charge for which Mr. Waldrop had been appointed and that if appellant desired the assistance of counsel prior to being interrogated, he needed to "re-invoke" his Miranda right to counsel. Investigator Elliott later testified exactly what he told appellant:

[I] explained to him that my understanding of the law is that whenever he invoked his Miranda warning the night he was arrested, that no one was allowed to question him at that point about that particular charge or any other charge that he might be involved in. Once he went to court, he was appointed a lawyer by the Court for that particular charge. He was not charged with another crime. Therefore, my understanding of the law was that his charge then became lawyer charge specific and if he wanted to invoke his Miranda warning on any other conversation we had, he had to re-invoke.

Following the investigator's explanation of appellant's right to legal assistance, appellant did not ask to consult with Mr. Waldrop or any other attorney.

Appellant agreed to make a statement. Investigator Elliott then questioned appellant about the items seized during the search of his home. During this exchange, appellant disclosed his involvement in burglaries and larcenies in both Goochland and Fluvanna counties. Investigator Elliott asked appellant if he would make a "formal statement" on tape. Appellant consented, and, during his taped statement, admitted to stealing the property at issue in this case which had been located in Fluvanna County.

The Goochland County Sheriff's Office informed the authorities in Fluvanna County of appellant's statement. On April 22, a Fluvanna County grand jury charged appellant with two counts of grand larceny. On April 23, the trial court ordered appellant moved from the James River Correctional Center to the trial court for a hearing scheduled at 2:00 p.m. on April 25. At 1:20 p.m. on April 25, Investigator Albert Bryant of the Fluvanna County Sheriff's Office approached appellant in a holding cell near the trial court. After appellant was warned of and waived his Miranda rights, he again confessed to taking the property at issue in this case.

Appellant filed a motion to suppress numerous items of evidence, including the statements he made to Investigator Elliott on April 9 and to Investigator Bryant on April 25. Appellant argued that these statements had been obtained in violation of his right to counsel under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). Following a hearing, the trial court denied appellant's motion. The trial court concluded that appellant never made a "specific request" for counsel before making his statement to Investigator Elliott. The trial court stated that "at best there was an equivocal statement or ambiguous statement or some discussion about Mr. Waldrop being appointed in another matter."

Appellant was subsequently tried and both of his statements were admitted into evidence. The trial court convicted appellant of two counts of grand larceny.


Appellant contends that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress the statements he made to Investigator Elliott in Goochland County on April 9 and to Investigator Bryant in Fluvanna County on April 25. He argues that these statements should have been suppressed because the Commonwealth failed to prove that he waived his Miranda right to counsel. Referencing the so-called "Edwards rule," appellant asserts that the Commonwealth did not prove that he waived his right to counsel prior to making his statements because both statements were obtained during interrogation that was initiated by the investigators after he had previously invoked his Miranda right to counsel. We agree.



In order to insure that the Fifth Amendment right against compulsory self-incrimination is protected during the custodial interrogation of criminal suspects, the United States Supreme Court established a series of "procedural safeguards" that law enforcement authorities must adhere to when interviewing suspects in their custody. See Davis v. United States, 512 U.S. 452, 457, 114 S.Ct. 2350, 2354, 129 L.Ed.2d 362 (1994) (citing Michigan v. Tucker, 417 U.S. 433, 443-44, 94 S.Ct. 2357, 2363-64, 41 L.Ed.2d 182 (1974)); see also Mier v. Commonwealth, 12 Va.App. 827, 831, 407 S.E.2d 342, 344-45 (1991). Compliance with these procedures is a "prerequisite[ ] to the admissibility of any statement made by a defendant" during custodial interrogation. Miranda, 384 U.S. at 476, 86 S.Ct. at 1629; see also Goodwin v. Commonwealth, 3 Va.App. 249, 252, 349 S.E.2d 161, 163 (1986).

Included among the safeguards established in Miranda is the right of a suspect to have counsel present at any custodial interrogation and to terminate the interrogation by invoking this right. See Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 485-86, 101 S.Ct. 1880, 1885, 68 L.Ed.2d 378 (1981); Miranda, 384 U.S. at 469, 475, 86 S.Ct. at 1625, 1628; see also Correll v. Commonwealth, 232 Va. 454, 462, 352 S.E.2d 352, 356 (1987); Foster v. Commonwealth, 8 Va.App. 167, 173, 380 S.E.2d 12, 15 (1989). In order for a defendant's statement to be admissible at trial, the Commonwealth must prove that the defendant was informed of his Miranda right to counsel, i.e., that he has the right to consult with a lawyer, to have the lawyer present during interrogation and that, if the defendant is indigent, a lawyer will be appointed to represent him. See Miranda, 384 U.S. at 471, 473, 475, 86 S.Ct. at 1626, 1627, 1628; Green v. Commonwealth 223 Va. 706, 710, 292 S.E.2d 605, 607 (1982). If the interrogation continues without the presence of an attorney, the defendant's statement is inadmissible unless the Commonwealth proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waived his right to retained or appointed counsel. See Edwards, 451 U.S. at 482, 101 S.Ct. at 1884; Miranda, 384 U.S. at 475, 86 S.Ct. at 1628. See also Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 168, 107 S.Ct. 515, 522, 93 L.Ed.2d 473 (1986); Mills v. Commonwealth, 14 Va.App. 459, 468, 418 S.E.2d 718, 722-23 (1992).

In order to "prevent police from badgering a defendant into waiving his previously asserted Miranda rights" and to "protect the suspect's 'desire to deal with the police only through counsel,' " the United States Supreme Court established the "Edwards rule" as a "second layer of prophylaxis for the Miranda right to counsel." See Davis, 512 U.S. at 458, 114 S.Ct. at 2355; McNeil v. Wisconsin, 501 U.S. 171, 176, 178, 111 S.Ct. 2204, 2208, 2209, 115 L.Ed.2d 158 (1991); Michigan v. Harvey, 494 U.S. 344, 350, 110 S.Ct. 1176, 1180, 108 L.Ed.2d 293 (1990). Pursuant to Edwards and its progeny, once the defendant invokes his Miranda right to counsel, all police-initiated interrogation regarding any criminal investigation must cease unless the defendant's counsel is present at the time of questioning. See Minnick v. Mississippi, 498 U.S. 146, 153, 111 S.Ct. 486, 491, 112 L.Ed.2d 489 (1990); Arizona v. Roberson, 486 U.S. 675, 683, 108 S.Ct. 2093, 2099, 100 L.Ed.2d 704 (1988); Edwards, 451 U.S. at 484-85, 101 S.Ct. at 1885; see also Jackson v. Commonwealth, 14 Va.App. 414, 416, 417 S.E.2d 5, 6-7...

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