United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Waycross Division
ORDER AND MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
BENJAMIN W. CHEESBRO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Isaiah Hicks (“Mr. Hicks”) has been indicted on
Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person, 18.U.S.C.
§ 922(g)(1). Before the Court are ten discovery motions
by Mr. Hicks, docs. 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 56, 57, and 58.
Mr. Hicks has also filed a Motion to Determine Voluntariness
of Statements under Jackson v. Denno, 378 U.S. 368
(1964), doc. 55.
Court held a motions hearing on August 26, 2019. Doc. 124.
During the hearing, the parties informed the Court that, as
of the date of the hearing, all discovery issues had been
resolved. Accordingly, the Court DENIES as moot Mr.
Hicks's discovery motions, docs. 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54,
56, 57, and 58. Additionally, at the hearing, the undersigned
considered evidence and argument related tom Mr. Hicks's
Motion to Determine Voluntariness of Statements. Doc. 55. At
the hearing, I found that Mr. Hicks's statements were
voluntarily made and were not the product of any coercion or
undue pressure, and I set forth my reasons for reaching that
conclusion on the record. This Report and Recommendation
memorializes the conclusions and reasons set forth at the
August 26, 2019 hearing. For the reasons stated at the August
26, 2019 hearing, and restated below, I RECOMMEND that the
Court GRANT Motion to Determine Voluntariness of Statements
and find that Mr. Hicks's statements were voluntary.
Mr. Hicks's Statements
grand jury indicted Mr. Hicks for the offense of Possession
of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person, 18.U.S.C. §
922(g)(1). Doc. 1. On or about Mr. Hicks was arrested and
interrogated on June 16, 2018. Investigator Ray Boyles of the
Wayne County Police Department interrogated Mr. Hicks at the
Wayne County Jail for approximately 40 minutes, between
roughly 10:49 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. The interrogation included
questions about Mr. Hicks's involvement in a shooting at
the Briarwood Apartment Complex located in Jesup, Georgia.
Mr. Hicks filed a motion in accordance with Jackson v.
Denno, 378 U.S. 368 (1964), asking the Court to
determine the voluntariness of the statements he made during
the June 16, 208 interrogation (the “Motion”).
Court held a hearing on Defendant's Motion on August 26,
2019. Doc. 123. At the hearing, counsel for Defendant played
video footage of the June 16, 2018 interrogation. The video
footage was taken from the interrogating officer's body
camera. Defendant's counsel played all material parts of
the interrogation video for the Court. No. party disputes the
video's accuracy or completeness. Defendant's counsel
also tendered two documentary exhibits at the August 26, 2019
hearing: (1) an Arrest/Booking Report that was prepared, at
least in part, during the June 16, 2018 interrogation; and
(2) a Miranda Waiver that was completed during the June 16,
2018 interrogation. Doc. 122.
June 16, 2018 interrogation occurred at the Wayne County,
Georgia Sheriff's office in Jesup, Georgia. The video
footage shows the interrogation took place in what appears to
be a small room with a table and three chairs. At the start
of the video, Mr. Hicks is seated across the table from
Investigator Ray Boyles and another officer in the
interrogation room. Investigator Boyles reads Mr. Hicks his
rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436
(1966). Officer Boyles takes the time to explain Mr.
Hicks's rights and reiterates a few aspects of the rights
in a more plain speak, informal manner. On the video, Mr.
Hicks executes a waiver acknowledging that he is aware of
those rights. Investigator Boyles then proceeds to question
Mr. Hicks about various topics, including his participation
in the purported shooting at the Briarwood Apartment Complex,
how he was affiliated with Codefendants, and who he knows at
the Briarwood Apartment Complex. Aside from a few technical
pauses in the video, the questioning continues for
approximately 40 minutes.
United States Supreme Court's holding in Jackson v.
Denno, 378 U.S. 368 (1964), governs the voluntariness of
confessions and, in pertinent part, provides:
It is now axiomatic that a defendant in a criminal case is
deprived of due process of law if his conviction is founded,
in whole or in part, upon an involuntary confession, without
regard for the truth or falsity of the confession, and even
though there is ample evidence aside from the confession to
support the conviction.
378 U.S. at 376 (internal citation omitted). A confession is
not voluntary pursuant to the Due Process Clause when law
enforcement officials have used coercive conduct.
Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157, 167 (1986).
Coercion can be mental or physical. Blackburn v.
Alabama, 361 U.S. 199, 206 (1960); Chambers v.
Florida, 309 U.S. 227, 237 (1940). The test for
determining if a confession is the result of coercion
requires a review of the totality of the circumstances.
Blackburn, 361 U.S. at 206 (citing Fikes v.
Alabama, 352 U.S. 191, 197 (1957)). In examining the
totality of the circumstances, it must be determined whether
“the statement is the product of the accused's free
and rational choice.” Harris v. Dugger, 874
F.2d 756, 761 (11th Cir. 1989). These potential circumstances
include not only the crucial element of police coercion, but
the length of the interrogation, its location, and its
continuity, and the defendant's maturity, education,
physical condition, and mental health. These circumstances
also include the failure of police to advise the defendant of
his rights to remain silent and to have counsel present
during custodial interrogation. Withrow v. Williams,
507 U.S. 680, 693-94 (1993) (internal citations omitted).
“Sufficiently coercive conduct normally involves
subjecting the accused to an exhaustingly long interrogation,
the application of physical force or the threat to do so, or
the making of a promise that induces a confession.”
United States v. Thompson, 422 F.3d 1285, 1295-96
(11th Cir. 2005). Government coercion is a necessary
predicate to a finding of involuntariness under the Fifth
Amendment. However, “[a]bsent police conduct causally
related to the confession, there is no basis for concluding
that any state actor has deprived a criminal defendant of due
process of law.” Id. at 1296.
Mr. Hicks's Statements were Voluntary
the testimony and argument presented at the August 26, 2019
hearing, as well as the video footage of Mr. Hicks's June
16, 2018 interrogation, I find that Mr. Hicks's