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United States v. Vanwaart

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Western Division

April 30, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSHUA MICHAEL VANWAART, Defendant.

          ORDER ON REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Leonard T. Strand, Chief Judge.

         This matter is before me on a Report and Recommendation (R&R) (Doc. No. 39) in which the Honorable Kelly K.E. Mahoney, United States Magistrate Judge, recommends that I grant defendant's motion (Doc. No. 31) to suppress. Neither party filed an objection. The time for objections has now expired.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         On October 25, 2017, the grand jury returned an indictment (Doc. No. 2) charging Joshua Michael VanWaart (VanWaart) with one count of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), 841(b)(1)(C) and 846 and one count of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(3), 922(g)(8) and 924(a)(2). On March 2, 2018, VanWaart filed a motion (Doc. No. 31) to suppress statements he made to law enforcement in a post-arrest interview. The Government filed a resistance (Doc. No. 33) on March 9, 2018. Judge Mahoney held a hearing on March 21, 2018. The following exhibits were admitted into evidence:

• Government Exhibit 1 - documents related to the Government's request for counsel to be appointed for defendant and request for an informal proffer
• Government Exhibit 2 - a video of defendant's post-arrest interview
• Government Exhibit 3 - a transcript of defendant's post-arrest interview

See Doc. No. 38. The Government also presented testimony from Dane Wagner.

         Judge Mahoney issued her R&R (Doc. No. 39) on April 10, 2018. Trial is scheduled to begin June 4, 2018.

         B. Relevant Facts

         Judge Mahoney summarized the following relevant facts in her R&R based on the exhibits and testimony presented during the suppression hearing:

In May 2017, the United States Attorney's Office sought to speak with VanWaart as part of an ongoing federal drug investigation, and the court appointed counsel to represent VanWaart. Doc. 35 at 1-2. The United States Attorney's Office sent a letter to VanWaart's counsel, proposing an informal proffer session with VanWaart. Doc. 35 at 3-5. Although a proffer session was scheduled, VanWaart ultimately refused to provide any information. Doc. 35-1 at 3-4. I take judicial notice that his appointed counsel's representation was terminated shortly thereafter (Docket, 17-mj-142-KEM (N.D. Iowa)). See Fed. R. Evid. 201; Hood v. United States, 152 F.2d 431, 433 (8th Cir. 1946) (holding that the trial court “could . . . take judicial notice of its own records in the original case, including the docket entries”).
A federal grand jury indicted VanWaart in October 2017 on drug and firearm charges, and a warrant issued for his arrest. Docs. 2, 3. Shortly before midnight on November 14, 2017, Sioux City, Iowa, police officer Dane Wagner (Officer Wagner) arrested VanWaart as authorized by the federal warrant, as well as other outstanding state warrants. He advised VanWaart of his Miranda rights and phoned Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) task force officer Todd Peterson (Officer Peterson) to advise him that VanWaart had been arrested. Officer Wagner asked VanWaart if he was willing to talk to DEA agents at the police station, and VanWaart agreed. Officer Wagner took VanWaart to the police station and left him to be interviewed.
VanWaart was given a bottle of water while he waited in an interview room. Around 2:00 a.m., Officer Peterson and two other drug task force officers entered the room. An officer quickly re-read VanWaart his Miranda rights and asked him if he understood. He said, “yeah, ” and when asked a second time, he nodded his head up and down. An officer told VanWaart that he had been federally indicted stemming from the same conduct they had tried to discuss during the attempted proffer session. When VanWaart heard the mandatory minimum for his charges, he became visibly upset. VanWaart asked what proof existed, and the officer responded, “if you don't want to talk to me and try to cooperate” - to which VanWaart interjected, “I do” ...

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