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State v. Figueroa

Supreme Court of Maine

August 16, 2016

STATE OF MAINE
v.
MICHAEL D. FIGUEROA

          Argued: June 10, 2016

         On the briefs:

          Jeremy Pratt, Esq., and Ellen Simmons, Esq., Camden, for appellant Michael D. Figueroa

          Maeghan Maloney, District Attorney, and Joelle S. Pratt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Office of the District Attorney, Skowhegan, for appellee State of Maine

         At oral argument:

          Jeremy Pratt, Esq., for appellant Michael D. Figueroa

          Joelle S. Pratt, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee State of Maine

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          JABAR, J.

         [¶1] Michael D. Figueroa appeals from a judgment of conviction of unlawful trafficking in scheduled drugs (Class B), 17-A M.R.S. § 1103(1-A)(A) (2015), entered in the Unified Criminal Docket (Somerset County, Mullen, J.) after the denial of his suppression motion and upon his conditional guilty plea. Figueroa contends that, because law enforcement did not specifically advise him before a custodial interrogation that he had the right to the presence of counsel during questioning, his statements during the interrogation must be suppressed. Under the circumstances of this case, we disagree. Here, where Figueroa was already represented by counsel who consented to the interrogation in his absence, where Figueroa himself initiated the interrogation by telling jail personnel that he wanted to talk with the officer who later conducted the interrogation, and where Figueroa was clearly advised before the commencement of the interrogation that he had the right to counsel, we conclude that Figueroa was adequately advised of his constitutional rights and that he effectively waived the privilege against self-incrimination, rendering his statements admissible against him at trial. We therefore affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] Viewed in the light most favorable to the suppression courts decision, the motion record supports the following facts. See State v. Ntim, 2013 ME 80, ¶ 2, 76 A.3d 370. On April 7, 2015, Figueroa was arrested and charged by uniform summons and complaint with aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs (Class A), 17-A M.R.S. § 1105-A(1)(H) (2015). After his arrest, Figueroa was transported to the Somerset County jail, where he received Miranda warnings[1] and invoked his right to counsel. The record does not illuminate what the Miranda warnings consisted of when they were delivered on this occasion.

         [¶3] Figueroa was indicted on April 30 on charges of aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs (Class A), 17-A M.R.S. § 1105-A(1)(H), the Class B trafficking charge of which he was later convicted, and unlawful possession of scheduled drugs (Class C), 17-A M.R.S. § 1107-A(1)(B)(1) (2014).[2] On April 15, 2015, counsel was appointed to represent Figueroa.

         [¶4] While in custody, Figueroa told jail personnel on multiple occasions that he wanted to speak with Maine Drug Enforcement Agent Kelly Hooper. When jail personnel relayed this information to Agent Hooper, she contacted the prosecutor, who offered to reach out to Figueroa's counsel and advise him of Figueroa's wishes. Figueroa's attorney called Agent Hooper and stated that although he could not be present during the time that Agent Hooper proposed to meet with Figueroa, he did not object to the interview as long as it was recorded. This conversation between Figueroa's counsel and Agent Hooper occurred about one week before the officer went to the jail and interviewed Figueroa.

         [¶5] On May 1, 2015, at 2:27 p.m., Agent Hooper met with Figueroa at the jail without any others present. Agent Hooper began an audio recording and then delivered the following Miranda warnings without using a Mi ...


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