United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Newport News Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Raymond A. Jackson United States District Judge.
the Court is Defendant Nader Abdallah's Motion to
Suppress on Fifth Amendment grounds (ECF Nos. 164, 245). This
Memorandum Opinion and Order expiates the Courts' ruling
from the bench. The Court held a hearing on the Motion to
Suppress and other outstanding pretrial motions on July 15,
2016. Defendant requests suppression of his statements he
alleges were made in violation of Miranda and his
Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Having
reviewed the pleadings and held a hearing on the Motion to
Suppress, this matter is now ripe for judicial determination.
For the reasons stated on the record and herein,
Defendant's Motion to Suppress is DENIED.
PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL HISTORY
April 20, 2015, Defendant was arrested and taken into custody
as a result of an investigation of the distribution of spice,
a controlled substance analogue mimicking the effects of
marijuana. Prior to beginning questioning at the Newport News
Police Headquarters, Homeland Security Special Agent Lewis
began reading Defendant his Miranda rights. However,
before completion of the Miranda warning, Defendant
interrupted Agent Lewis and stated that he "wasn't
going to say anything at all." Agent Lewis then
completed the Miranda warning and asked Defendant
whether he knew why he was under arrest. Defendant replied
that he did not. Agent Lewis repeated the Miranda
warning and proceeded to discuss the charges and obtain a
statement from the Defendant.
February 10, 2016, Defendant Nader Abdallah was named in a 38
count Second Superseding Indictment along with eleven other
defendants. ECF No. 205. The Second Superseding Indictment
names Defendant Nader Abdallah in Counts 1-3. Id. A
trial for this matter is scheduled for September 13, 2016.
December 16, 2015, Defendant Nader Abdallah, through counsel,
filed his first Motion to Suppress. ECF No. 164. On December
28, 2015, the Government filed its Response in Opposition.
ECF No. 178. On April 1, 2016, Defendant, through newly
appointed counsel, filed a second Motion to Suppress on the
same Fifth Amendment grounds as the initial motion. ECF No.
245. On April 12, 2016, the Government filed its Response in
Opposition. ECF No. 262.
deciding a motion to suppress, the district court is
empowered to make findings of fact and conclusions of law.
United States v. Stevenson, 396 F.3d 538, 541 (4th
Cir. 2005) (citations omitted). "At a hearing on a
motion to suppress, the credibility of the witness and the
weight to be given the evidence, together with the
inferences, deductions and conclusions to be drawn from the
evidence, are all matters to be determined by the trial
judge." United States v. McKneely, 6 F.3d 1447,
1452-53 (10th Cir. 1993); see also United States v.
Massey, 257 F.App'x 662, 664 (4th Cir. 2007);
Columbus-Am. Discovery Group v. All. Mut. Ins. Co.,
56 F.3d 556, 567 (4th Cir. 1995).
general rule, the burden of proof is on the defendant who
seeks to suppress the evidence. United States v.
Dickerson, 655 F.2d 559, 561 (4th Cir. 1981). Once the
defendant establishes a basis for his suppression motion, the
burden shifts to the government. United States v.
Matlock, 415 U.S. 164, 177-78 n.14 (1974). Where a
defendant seeks to suppress a statement under Miranda v.
Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), the government bears the
burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence
that the statement was not the product of custodial
interrogation conducted in the absence of Miranda
warnings. Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 168
(1986); Matlock, 415 U.S. at 178.
case, Defendant asserts that the agents unlawfully questioned
him after he invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain
silent. The Government contends that the questioning was
lawful because Defendant willingly spoke with officers after
being informed of his Miranda rights a second time
and waiving those rights. At issue is whether the Defendant
unequivocally invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain
silent and whether Defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived
his Miranda rights.
defendant must be informed of his rights through a
Miranda warning before law enforcement may properly
conduct a custodial interrogation. Miranda v.
Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444 (1966). Specifically,
"[p]rior to any questioning, the person must be warned
that he has a right to remain silent, that any statement he
does make may be used as evidence against him, and that he
has a right to the presence of an attorney, either retained
or appointed." Id. "The prosecution may
not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory,
stemming from custodial interrogation of the defendant unless
it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to
secure the privilege against self-incrimination."
Id. If law enforcement does not administer
Miranda warnings before they question a person in
custody, evidence resulting from the questioning must be
suppressed. However, "[t]he defendant may waive
effectuation of these rights, provided the waiver is made
voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently." Id.
a suspect has voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently
waived his rights under Miranda is examined by the
"totality of the circumstances surrounding the
interrogation." Moran v. Burbine, 475 U.S. 412,
421 (1986); see also United States v. Robinson, 404
F.3d 850, 860 (4th Cir. 2005). The Fourth Circuit has
articulated a two-step inquiry. First, a court must find that
"the relinquishment of the right 'must have been
voluntary in the sense that it was the product of free and
deliberate choice rather than intimidation, coercion, or
deception, '" United States v. Shanklin,
2013 WL 6019216 at *3 (E.D. Va. Nov. 13, 2013) (quoting
United States v. Cristobal, 293 F.3d 134, 139 (4th
Cir. 2002)). Second, the district court must find that the
waiver was "made with a full awareness of both the
nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of
the decision to abandon it.'" Id. (quoting
Cristobal, 293 F.3d at 140). When analyzing the
totality of the circumstances, courts have considered such
factors as the suspect's "intelligence and
education, " his "age and familiarity with the
criminal justice system, " and "the proximity of
the waiver to the giving of the Miranda
warnings." Poyner v. Murray, 964 F.2d 1404,
1413 (4th Cir. 1992).
waiver of Miranda rights can be made expressly or
can be implied "from the actions and words of the person
interrogated." North Carolina v. Butler, 441
U.S. 369, 373 (1979) (holding that an express waiver of
Miranda rights is not required for police
interrogation so long as a suspect is "adequately and
effectively apprised of his rights"). The Court noted
that a waiver may be implied through a "defendant's
silence, coupled with an understanding of his rights and a
course of conduct indicating waiver." Id. at
373. The Court also emphasized that the adequacy of a waiver
is determined based on "the ...