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Idaho Supreme Court: Confession Obtained in Violation of Miranda Inadmissible in State’s Case in Chief but May Be Used for Impeachment Purposes Where Defendant’s Will Was Not ‘Overborne’ During Interrogation

by Douglas Ankney

The Supreme Court of Idaho held that a confession obtained in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), is inadmissible in the State’s case in chief against Daniel Lee Moore, but the confession may be used to impeach any claim of innocence by Moore if he were to testify at trial because Moore’s will was not “overborne” when he gave his statement, i.e., his confession was not coerced.

During Moore’s videotaped custodial interrogation regarding the fatal shooting of Dr. Brian Drake, who was shot through a window at his chiropractic office in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, Detective Sergeant Michael Van Leuven and Idaho State Police Detective Gary Tolleson accused Moore of killing Drake, which Moore repeatedly denied. After approximately four and a half minutes into the custodial interrogation, Van Leuven finally advised Moore of his Miranda rights and continued the interrogation.

They then outlined the evidence they had against Moore. Van Leuven explained to Moore the difference between a premeditated killing versus blindly shooting through a window, with the former resulting in a charge of first-degree murder and the latter being a lesser offense. Moore stated he did not know Drake and did not shoot him.

Van Leuven said, “if you don’t explain to us your intent, then we infer your intent based on what we see, which is [f]irst [d]egree [m]urder.”

Moore replied, “Well, I didn’t shoot him. And I’m sorry, but that’s – that’s what it is. So, I guess if you are going to do that, then I need to get an attorney.” (emphasis supplied) Moore’s invocation of his right to counsel occurred approximately 15 minutes into the interrogation.

Van Leuven said, “[O]K,” and told Moore to “sit tight [a]nd we’ll be right back with ya.” At that point, Van Leuven terminated the interrogation. He would subsequently testify that he ended the interrogation “because it sounded to me like he asked for a lawyer.”

Van Leuven consulted Assistant Chief Ryan, and the two officers decided that Ryan would continue the interrogation because he knew “Moore from their many years in the Bonner’s Ferry community.”

After sitting alone in the interrogation room for about 41 minutes, Ryan entered and immediately began interrogating Moore. Fourteen and a half minutes into this second interrogation, Moore said, “I need to talk to an attorney then.”

Nevertheless, for another 12 minutes, Ryan made a pretense of not understanding if Moore genuinely wanted an attorney and attempted to persuade Moore into confessing until Moore again unequivocally invoked his right to counsel yet again. Ryan then told Moore: “We’re done.... I can’t f*ckin’ talk to you anymore Daniel. Okay, buddy?” Ryan left the room.

Tolleson entered the room and told Moore his vehicle would be towed and warrants were being served for his house, vehicle, and office. Moore asked Tolleson if he could speak with Ryan one more time.

 Ryan returned and again pressed Moore to confess. At one point, Ryan assured Moore that if he told the truth (confessed), “I promise you this … I’ll go talk to him what booking we’re lookin’ at … and it won’t be first degree murder, I can guaran-damn-tee.”

 Moore subsequently incriminated himself in Drake’s murder, telling Ryan “I did not go there to murder him.” Eventually, he confessed to killing Drake. The total interrogation time was approximately three hours.

Moore moved to exclude all the statements he made during the interrogation after he first invoked his right to counsel, i.e., about 15 minutes into the interrogation. At the preliminary hearing, the magistrate ruled that there were no grounds to suppress the confession because Moore had reinitiated the interrogation when he asked to speak with Ryan after Ryan had ended the interrogation. The magistrate court, finding probable cause based on the videotaped statement, bound Moore over to the district court.

In the district court, Moore again moved to suppress all statements made by him after he first invoked his right to counsel as well as all statements made prior to the reading of his Miranda rights. The district court found that Moore had unequivocally invoked his right to counsel during the initial questioning by Van Leuven. Van Leuven left the room and 41 minutes later sent Ryan to continue the interrogation. Moore did not ask to speak with Ryan upon his first entry into the interrogation room. Ryan entered the room and continued the interrogation without ever mentioning Moore’s earlier request for an attorney.

The district court ruled that all statements made prior to the reading of Moore’s Miranda rights as well as those made after he invoked his right to counsel during questioning by Van Leuven must be suppressed. Additionally, because Ryan then repeatedly ignored Moore’s request for counsel, the district court concluded that “Moore’s will was overborne by the badgering and overreaching of police” and that “Moore’s subsequent confession was not voluntary, but rather, was the product of coercion.” As such, the confession could not be used in any criminal trial for any purpose – including for impeachment purposes should Moore claim innocence and testify at trial.

The State appealed. While admitting a Miranda violation occurred, the State argued, among other things, that Moore’s will was not overborne and his confession could be used for impeachment purposes.

The Idaho Supreme Court noted that the parties agree that the police violated Miranda when they continued to interrogate Moore after his first request for an attorney – approximately 15 minutes into the interrogation. Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477 (once a defendant requests an attorney, questioning must immediately cease until an attorney is present). However, they disagree on whether excluded evidence based on a Miranda violation automatically results in suppression of derivative evidence and bars its use for impeachment purposes.

The Court explained that the test for determining Miranda violations is different than the test for coercion and due process violations, stating “[w]hether a defendant has waived Miranda rights and whether a confession was voluntary have overlapping – though different – analyses.” State v. Samuel, 452 P.3d 768 (Idaho 2019). Quoting Samuel, the Court further explained: “Miranda warnings are premised on and designed to protect the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, while the exclusion of involuntary confessions is grounded in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and it applies to any confession that was the product of police coercion, either physical or psychological, or that was otherwise obtained by methods offensive to due process.”

Although statements suppressed because they were obtained in violation of Miranda may not be used as substantive evidence in the prosecution’s case in chief, they are admissible for impeachment purposes. Michigan v. Harvey, 494 U.S. 344 (1990). The U.S. Supreme Court explained the rationale for this rule: “The shield provided by Miranda cannot be perverted into a license to use perjury by way of a defense, free from the risk of confrontation with prior inconsistent utterances.” Harris v. New York, 401 U.S. 222 (1971).

In contrast, in the event of coercion, the confession is not deemed voluntary and is inadmissible for any purpose at trial because compelled confessions are a due process violation. Mincey v. Arizona, 437 U.S. 385 (1978). The U.S. Supreme Court explained: “The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments provide that no person ‘shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.’ ... [A] defendant’s compelled statements, as opposed to statements taken in violation of Miranda, may not be put to any testimonial use whatever against him in a criminal trial. ‘But any criminal trial use against a defendant of his involuntary statement is a denial of due process of law.’” New Jersey v. Portash, 440 U.S. 450 (1979) (quoting Mincey); see also Kansas v. Ventris, 556 U.S. 586 (2009). That is, not all Miranda violations are also automatically due process violations.

The State bears the burden of proving “by a preponderance of the evidence that the confession was voluntary,” State v. Culbertson, 666 P.2d 1139 (Idaho 1983), and if “the defendant’s free will [was] undermined by threats or through direct or implied promises, then the statement is not voluntary and is inadmissible.” Samuel. When determining whether a defendant’s free will was overborne, courts examine the “totality of the circumstances,” which includes: “(1) whether Miranda warnings were given; (2) the youth of the accused; (3) the accused’s level of education or low intelligence; (4) the length of detention; (5) the repeated and prolonged nature of the questioning; and (6) deprivation of food or sleep.” State v. Cordova, 51 P.3d 449 (Idaho) (citing Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218 (1973)); Arizona v. Fulminante, 499 U.S. 279 (1991).

Violation of the defendant’s Miranda rights is one factor courts consider when determining whether a statement was involuntary. Woodward v. State, 123 P.3d 1254 (Idaho Ct. App. 2005). Importantly, “coercive police activity is a necessary predicate to the finding that a confession is not ‘voluntary’ within the meaning of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157 (1986).

Turning to the present case, in order for the State to use Moore’s statements for impeachment purposes, it must show that they were not coerced and voluntary. The Court observed that (1) Moore was given Miranda warnings although his multiple invocations of the right to counsel were not respected, (2) Moore was 63 at the time of the interrogations, (3) Moore was an educated, intelligent man as evidenced by his successful chiropractic practice, (4) Moore was detained for one hour and 41 minutes before he gave his incriminating statements, (5) Ryan’s questioning was prolonged, and (6) although not given food, Moore was provided with water and a blanket and was provided opportunity to use the restroom upon request. Consequently, the Court stated that the decisive factors are the length of Moore’s detention and the repeated, prolonged nature of Ryan’s questioning.

Moore was detained for approximately three hours total, which, standing alone, is insufficient evidence to support a finding of coercion. Berghuis v. Thompkins, 560 U.S. 370 (2010). And Ryan’s initial prolonged questioning did not convince the Court that Moore’s will was overborne, despite the fact his repeated requests for an attorney were ignored. After the prolonged questioning and Ryan had left the interrogation room, Moore requested to speak again with Ryan and then confessed. If the prolonged questioning had overborne Moore’s will, he would have confessed during that questioning, the Court reasoned, not after Ryan had already left the interrogation room and Moore asked to speak with him again, which the Court found particularly compelling. Thus, the Court concluded that “the State met its burden to show that the confession was voluntary and uncoerced by a preponderance of the evidence.”

Accordingly, the Court affirmed the district court’s ruling that the confession is inadmissible in the State’s case in chief but reversed the ruling that the confession is inadmissible for impeachment purposes. See: State v. Moore, 516 P.3d 1054 (Idaho 2022).

 

 

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