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Name: United States v. Luna Zapien
Case #: 14-10224
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 07/03/2017
Summary

Biographical questions asked during a routine booking procedure after defendant’s invocation of his right to counsel did not amount to interrogation because they were not reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response. Defendant was arrested on suspicion of possessing and selling drugs. An officer read defendant his Miranda rights in Spanish, and he said he understood and was willing to speak to officers. After five minutes of questioning, defendant invoked his right to counsel. The officer then explained that he was no longer going to ask questions about the evidence but he needed biographical information for a form. During these questions, defendant told the officers he wanted to give a statement regarding the crime. The officers reminded him of his constitutional rights, but defendant said he wanted to speak without an attorney present and admitted to selling drugs. Before trial, defendant filed a motion to suppress the statements made during his arrest, arguing that the statements were obtained in violation of Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436. The federal district court denied the motion, and a jury convicted defendant of drug offenses. He appealed. Held: Affirmed. The “routine gathering of background biographical information, such as identity, age, and address, usually does not constitute interrogation.” (United States v. Washington (9th Cir. 2006) 462 F.3d 1124, 1132.) The booking exception can apply to questioning even after a defendant has invoked his right to counsel. The determinative issue is whether the officer “should have known that his questions were reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response.” (United States v. Poole (1986) 794 F.2d 462, 466.) In this case, both the questions themselves and the context in which they were asked support the determination that they were not reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response. The biographical questions had no relation to defendant’s crimes and there was no evidence that the agents played upon any of defendant’s weaknesses or used the questions as a pretext to elicit information.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2017/07/03/14-10224.pdf