United States v. Hallford, 15–3003.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
Citation816 F.3d 850
Docket NumberNo. 15–3003.,15–3003.
Parties UNITED STATES of America, Appellant v. Joseph Daniel HALLFORD, Appellee.
Decision Date04 March 2016

816 F.3d 850

UNITED STATES of America, Appellant
Joseph Daniel HALLFORD, Appellee.

No. 15–3003.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.

Argued Oct. 15, 2015.
Decided March 4, 2016.

David P. Saybolt, Assistant U.S. Attorney, argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs were Ronald C. Machen, Jr., U.S. Attorney at the time the brief was filed, Elizabeth Trosman, Elizabeth H. Danello, and Michael J. Friedman, Assistant U.S. Attorneys.

Jonathan S. Jeffress, Assistant Federal Public Defender, argued the cause for appellee. With him on the brief was A.J. Kramer, Federal Public Defender.

Before: BROWN and WILKINS, Circuit Judges, and RANDOLPH, Senior Circuit Judge.

Opinion for the Court filed by Senior Circuit Judge RANDOLPH.

Opinion dissenting in part and concurring in part filed by Circuit Judge WILKINS.

RANDOLPH, Senior Circuit Judge:

A federal grand jury indicted Joseph D. Hallford for firearms offenses. The United States appeals the district court's order, issued after an evidentiary hearing, suppressing Hallford's statements to agents of the United States Secret Service, and barring the government from introducing items—loaded firearms, an incendiary device, a bullet-proof vest, military grade ammunition and other objects—recovered from the car he illegally parked near the National Mall.

There are two basic questions. Did the seizure and search of Hallford's car result from a violation of Hallford's rights under the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause? And was Hallford in custody within the meaning of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966), when the agents interviewed him without giving Miranda warnings, thus rendering his statements inadmissible?


Hallford left Alabama in his father's car and drove overnight to the District of Columbia so that he could be on the Mall the next afternoon, November 5, 2013, for the "Million Mask March," which turned out to be neither a march nor a million (Hallford estimated that about 100 people attended). The participants gathered in front of the White House wearing "Guy Fawkes" masks. Hallford, then 32 years old, arrived at the gathering wearing such a mask and confronted officers of the Secret Service, opening his coat to show that he was unarmed, and demanding "Shoot me! Shoot me!" There is no evidence the officers responded to his provocation.

Later that day, Park Service Rangers encountered Hallford at the Korean War Memorial, near the Lincoln Memorial. One of the Park Rangers filled out a "sick person" report stating that Hallford complained about missing his medication for hemophilia, that he appeared weak and disoriented, that he had driven to Washington from Alabama, and that he could not remember where he had parked his car. Park Rangers called an ambulance for him but when it arrived Hallford refused to get in, "stating that he had been in this condition before and would be alright." Instead, Hallford took a cab to find his car and, when he failed to locate it, he had the driver take him to the emergency room at George Washington Hospital.

816 F.3d 853

At the hospital, Hallford complained of bleeding as a result of his hemophilia. He stated that he had driven to the District from Alabama to participate in the "Million Mask March." He told staff members that "he wanted to be shot by the Secret Service ... so his parents could own the agency." He threatened to "bash the doctor's head in" if the doctor did not give him pain medication. He said that if he "didn't have kids, [he] would have already killed [him]self." He also stated that "I would rather not kill people, I would rather they suffer." He said that he wanted to "hurt the government." Hospital personnel, understandably concerned about his remarks, decided to transfer Hallford to United Medical Center for an "involuntary psych evaluation." See D.C.CODE §§ 21–521 to–522. A doctor explained to Hallford the "rationale and need for involuntary admission." In the meantime, a member of the hospital's security staff called the Secret Service Operations Center to report that a man named Joseph Hallford had come to the emergency room, that he was in physical pain and possibly mentally disturbed, that he said he wanted the Secret Service to shoot him, that although he was unpredictable he tended to be "very calm," and that he was scheduled to be transferred to another facility, the United Medical Center, an agency of the D.C. government, for an "involuntary psych evaluation."

The next day, November 6, around 3 p.m., the hospital transferred Hallford to United Medical Center, a more secure facility than George Washington Hospital. Before Hallford left, hospital staff gave him pain medication and a while later he reported that the pain in his leg had subsided. Also, one of the nurses again explained to him the civil commitment order and why it had been issued. Hallford "expressed understanding" about the reasons for his temporary commitment.

Hallford's car—parked in the vicinity of the Lincoln Memorial—had been attracting the attention of the Park Service. An officer ticketed the car on November 5 for being illegally parked. The next morning, November 6, another Park Service officer placed an "abandoned vehicle" tag on the car, designating it to be towed. Later that day, still another officer ticketed the car again for a parking violation.

While Hallford was in transit to United Medical Center, Secret Service agents Brian Fox and John Maher arrived at George Washington Hospital to interview him. The agents were members of a "protective intelligence squad" charged with investigating unusual interest in Secret Service "protectees"—such as the President and Vice President. Agent Fox had conducted some 200 interviews, about half of which were of people who had "mental health issues." After learning that Hallford had already been transferred, the agents remained at George Washington Hospital to ask staff members about Hallford's statements, his behavior, and his medical condition. The agents then drove to United Medical Center. After they arrived they joined Hallford and several medical staff members. The group then proceeded to a doctor's lounge.

Hallford took a seat at a table. The agents explained to him that they were not there to arrest him and that he was not "in trouble." Before proceeding, the agents asked if they could "speak to [him] about those statements" he made at George Washington Hospital. Hallford said "yes." (Agent Fox testified that if Hallford had said "No" they would have left.) The agents began the interview with general biographical questions, asking Hallford for his address, date of birth, his marital status and other personal information. Hallford told them he had been arrested in Alabama for writing bad checks, that he

816 F.3d 854

had been involuntarily committed before, and that he had abused prescription drugs. The agents asked him about his statements at George Washington Hospital. Hallford recounted what had happened over the past two days and explained that he was suffering from the effects of his hemophilia.

When the agents were satisfied that Hallford posed no threat to any Secret Service protectee, they wound down the interview with several routine questions from the Secret Service interview form. One of the questions was whether Hallford owned firearms. In response, Hallford said he had a .45 caliber handgun, a 12–gauge shotgun, and two .22 caliber rifles. When the agents asked where he had these firearms, Hallford said they were in his home in Alabama. When they asked where in his home, Hallford considered the question for a moment, possibly up to a minute, and then admitted that the firearms were in the car he had driven to the District of Columbia. Saying nothing, Agent Fox stood up and walked out to make a telephone call. While he was doing so, Hallford volunteered to Agent Maher that "there was other stuff in the vehicle that would look bad," such as a container of gasoline, bottles of propane and a Molotov cocktail, or the makings of one. Hallford added that he kept the firearms for self-defense. The agents asked Hallford for permission to search the car when, and if, they found it and to review his medical records. Hallford refused both requests. The agents then ended the interview.

The interview lasted less than an hour. At the suppression hearing, Agent Fox testified that during the interview Hallford "was calm. He was controlled. He was generally nice at times. He smiled. He—he, you know, made a few jokes here and there." Hallford was not handcuffed. He was not physically restrained. When he mentioned that he had not eaten in days,1 a member of the hospital staff offered him chocolate. The agents wore casual clothes, spoke in conversational tones, and did not display their badges or weapons. They did not give Hallford the standard Miranda warnings. They did not tell him he was free to end the interview. The door to the doctor's lounge was frequently open. Doctors and hospital staff members came and went during the interview. Outside the lounge, the hallway doors were operated with key cards.

Later that evening, police located Hallford's car on Ohio Drive just south of Independence Avenue near the Lincoln Memorial. The police searched the car and discovered Hallford's medication; a .45 caliber...

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