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United States v. Holmes


March 26, 1985


Appeal from a Judgment of Conviction of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey

Author: Seitz

Before: SEITZ and HIGGINBOTHAM, Circuit Judges, and WEBER, District Judge.*fn*


SEITZ, Circuit Judge :

James Holmes ("defendant") appeals from a sentence entered after a conviction by a jury.

On August 24, 1983, defendant was arrested by local police officers in connection with the armed robbery of a bank. The defendant was taken to the Newark city police station where he was advised of his constitutional rights and placed in local custody. He remained in local custody until shortly before 4:00 p.m. the next day when, pursuant to the execution of a federal complaint and arrest warrant, we was transferred into the custody of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("F.B.I."). At that time he indicated a desire to speak to an F.B.I. agent with whom he had become acquainted. After again advising the defendant of his rights, the agents proceeded to question him. The record does not indicate that the defendant at any time refused to speak to the authorities or requested that an attorney be present.

The issue presented on appeal is whether the district court erred by admitting into evidence incriminating statements made by the defendant during this pre-arraignment interrogation. The defendant argues that at the time of his confession he was not in a sufficiently stable physical condition to voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently waive his privilege against self-incrimination and his right to counsel. The district court considered this issue and after extensive hearings found that there was insufficient evidence to indicate that the defendant's judgment had been impaired by his physical injuries. Although it is undisputed that at the time of the F.B.I. interrogation the defendant suffered from first and second degree burns, the government introduced ample evidence to indicate that the defendant was alert and in full control of his faculties when he gave his confession. Moreover, the defendant neither requested nor was denied medical attention during the course of the interrogation. The court's findings are not clearly erroneous and thus, the district court's finding that the confession was voluntarily made was fully warranted.

The defendant further contends that his confession should have been suppressed because of unreasonable delay in bringing him before a federal magistrate. See 18 U.S.C. § 3501(c). The defendant was arraigned on the morning of August 26, 1983. He had been held in local police custody for more than 24 hours before being turned over to federal authorities. The defendant contends that the district court erred in failing to consider the time spent in local custody when evaluating whether there had been unreasonable delay.

The jurisdictions that have considered this issue have consistently held that, absent a showing of illicit collaboration between state and federal authorities, only the period of federal detention is to be considered in deciding whether to exclude a confession because of unreasonable delay. See United States v. Woods, 613 F.2d 629 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 446 U.S. 920 (1980); United States v. Jensen, 561 F.2d 1297 (8th Cir. 1977); United States v. Rollerson, 491 F.2d 1209 (5th Cir. 1974). Illicit collaboration occurs when local authorities unlawfully detain a suspect for the purpose of assisting federal officials in securing a confession. Rollerson, 491 F.2d at 1212.

Although there is evidence in the present case that the F.B.I. participated with local authorities in the apprehension of the robbery suspects, there is nothing in the record to suggest any improper collaboration between the two law enforcement agencies. To our knowledge, no court has yet held that a mere working relationship between federal and local authorities is sufficient to trigger the computation of delay under 18 U.S.C. § 3501(c) at the commencement of local custody, and we decline to be the first.

Finally, we find no abuse of discretion in the district court's decision to exclude photographs demonstrating the defendant's physical injuries.

The judgment of the district court will be affirmed.

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