- Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
- Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
- Date Filed: 12-14-2022
- Case #: 20-30009; 21-30121
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Bress, J., for the Court; Hurwitz, J.; Thomas, J.
- Full Text Opinion
Petitioner, a civilian coast guard mechanic, was convicted of murdering two of his coworkers. Petitioner’s employment was conditioned on compliance with an employment manual which required complete and honest answers in investigations, listing termination as the accompanying penalty. Petitioner previously received a written reprimand which cautioned that any future incidents of misconduct could result in termination. Petitioner moved to suppress statements made to investigators, arguing the manual and reprimand created a background of implicit coercion to self-incriminate or lose his employment, in violation of the Fifth Amendment. Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493, 500 (1967). The trial court denied his motion, and he appeals. Impermissible coercion requires both an objective threat of an adverse employment action for refusal to self-incriminate, and a subjective awareness of this penalty. See United States v. Smith, 821 F.3d 1293 (11th Cir. 2016); United States v. Palmquist, 712 F.3d 640 (1st Cir. 2013); United States v. Friedrick, 842 F.2d 382 (D.C. Cir. 1988). No evidence in the record supports a conclusion that petitioner subjectively believed he faced a penalty for complying with investigators, or even that he had read the employment manual, and as such it is not necessary to consider the objective reasonableness of such a belief. Affirmed.