Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Splits Created or Widened in the Circuits - 2/25-2/26

Judge Gilman’s opinion for this Sixth Circuit panel answers this question in the affirmative, creating a circuit split with the Seventh Circuit. Looking at several district court opinions which have confronted the issue, the Sixth Circuit decides that material participation in the debt collection is sufficient to expose an individual to liability, whereas the Seventh Circuit requires facts sufficient to pierce the veil of protection provided by LLCs.

  • Can the Bureau of Prisons create a categorical rule regarding prisoner placement given 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b)’s factors for individualized consideration? Muniz v. Sabol, 2008 WL 497056 (1st Cir. Feb. 26, 2008)

This panel opinion of the First Circuit unanimously says yes, contrary to four 2-1 opinions of CA 2,3,8, and 10. The other circuits generally found that Congress mandated individualized consideration of five factors for transfer to a CCC, and such a blanket rule does not the mandated consideration. The First Circuit, however, finds that the five factors are not exhaustive of all possible considerations and categorical rulemaking is permissible – “Because the individualized consideration of the five factors mandated by 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b) is directed at the overall placement decision, and because the question of the appropriateness of CCCs for inmates during the first ninety percent of their sentences is an issue of general applicability within the scope of Lopez, the 2005 regulations are a reasonable exercise of the Bureau of Prisons' discretion in carrying out its duties under 18 U.S.C. § 3621(b).”

Raising this issue will often be difficult given the Scylla and Charbydis of ripeness and mootness in the timing of such claims. I also doubt the issue is of sufficient importance to be granted certiorari.

  • How big is the Quarles/Public Safety Exception to Miranda warnings? United States v. Liddell, 2008 WL 482410 (8th Cir. Feb. 25, 2008)

In a decision already discussed by Robert Loblaw, the Eighth Circuit extends the public safety exception to Miranda warnings to include the facts of this case – the police pull over a car for playing music too loudly and arrest its driver after discovering his license is suspended. They found marijuana on the drivers body and an unloaded weapon in the car. They proceeded to ask the driver, now handcuffed without being Mirandized, if there was anything more they should know about. The driver admitted knowledge of the presence of the gun, a statement which he tried to exclude in a pre-trial motion. The Eighth Circuit upheld the decision that the statement was admissible because of the risk to the officers. Judge Gruender concurs, agreeing that circuit precedent requires this outcome, but that such precedent has strayed from the limited exception in Quarles – there are no longer exigent circumstances. He also notes that the First Circuit applies the exception similarly broadly, whereas the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth have maintained a narrow exception.

Miranda caselaw has been rife with splits. Another one of interest, is whether a general warning that the suspect has a 'right to counsel' suffices to inform a defendant that he or she has a right to counsel during the interrogation rather than later. Here, however, the lineup of the circuits is more predictable.....

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