United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AS MODIFIED
AND DENYING MOTION TO SUPPRESS
E. SCHREIER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Erin M. Hinkle, is charged with conspiracy to distribute a
controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§
841(a)(1) and 846. Docket 60. Hinkle filed a motion to
suppress statements made in the course of a custodial
interrogation. Docket 158. The court referred Hinkle's
motion to Magistrate Judge Veronica Duffy under 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B). After holding an evidentiary hearing,
Magistrate Judge Duffy recommended defendant's motion to
suppress be denied. Dockets 170, 175. Hinkle filed objections
to the Report and Recommendation. Docket 181. After a de novo
review of the Report and Recommendation and a review of the
record, the court adopts the Report and Recommendation as
modified below and denies Hinkle's motion.
court's review of a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Rule
72 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court reviews
de novo any objections to the magistrate judge's
recommendations with respect to dispositive matters that are
timely made and specific. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Because motions to suppress evidence are
considered dispositive matters, a magistrate judge's
recommendation regarding such a motion is subject to de novo
review. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); see also United
States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 673 (1980). In
conducting a de novo review, this court may then
“accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
findings or recommendations made by the magistrate
judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also United
States v. Craft, 30 F.3d 1044, 1045 (8th Cir. 1994).
recitation of the facts can be found in the Report and
Recommendation (Docket 175), but after a de novo review of
the evidence, the court finds the pertinent facts relevant to
Hinkle's objections are as follows:
Michael Flanagan was involved in an investigation into Erin
Hinkle. A rental vehicle in which Hinkle was a passenger
traveled from Minnesota to Wisconsin. On August 3, 2018,
Agent Flanagan advised Wisconsin State Patrol that he had
probable cause to believe the vehicle was involved in the
distribution of methamphetamine. That afternoon, Wisconsin
State Patrol initiated a traffic stop of the vehicle. Hinkle
was identified as a passenger in the rental vehicle,
traveling with Anthony Laws, Jr.
the stop, both individuals were removed, handcuffed, and
placed in the back seat of separate patrol cars. A drug dog
conducted an exterior sniff of the vehicle and alerted.
Officers searched the vehicle and found drug paraphernalia in
the purse located on the passenger side. This initial search
occurred roadside along Interstate 94. Because officers
believed they were creating a traffic hazard, officers
decided to move the vehicle and passengers to a parking lot
off a nearby exit. Both Hinkle and Laws, Jr., were
transported to the new location in the back seat of separate
patrol cars while still handcuffed. A more thorough search of
the vehicle at this second site revealed wire transfer
receipts and four cellphones. No statements were made by
Hinkle at this time.
the search was complete, Agent Flanagan spoke to Laws, Jr.,
away from Hinkle. Laws, Jr., agreed to ride with Agent
Flanagan to a local police department to have a conversation.
After Laws, Jr., agreed, Hinkle was allowed to return to the
vehicle. Agent Flanagan testified that he informed Hinkle
that Laws, Jr., wished to speak with law enforcement at the
local department, and that Hinkle could either follow them or
was free to leave. Hinkle agreed to follow them, and drove
herself to the station. Although she followed officers to the
station, no officer rode with her in the vehicle.
recollection of this conversation differs from Agent
Flanagan's. Hinkle testified that Agent Flanagan told her
that she could leave in the rental vehicle if she wanted but
that they would “have this conversation later” if
she chose not to follow law enforcement. She interpreted this
admonishment to mean that she was not under arrest but would
be arrested if she did not comply. Hinkle testified that
because she believed she would be arrested, she chose to
follow law enforcement to the station.
Flanagan testified that once at the local department he
approached Hinkle in the rental vehicle and told her that she
was free to go at any time and that she did not need to stay
at the station. He then went inside with Laws, Jr. Again,
Hinkle's recollection of the conversation differs from
Agent Flanagan's. Hinkle testified that Agent Flanagan
told her to stay at the station and that he would come get
her later. Hinkle then stayed in the rental vehicle outside
the station for over an hour. Eventually, Hinkle needed to
use the restroom, and asked police officers outside if she
could. Because the local police department was small and did
not have a public restroom, an officer led her to a private
bathroom in the secured area of the department. The officer
waited for her and let her back out of the station. Hinkle
then went back and sat in the vehicle, unaccompanied.
Flanagan testified that after speaking to Laws, Jr., he
allowed Laws, Jr., to go speak to Hinkle briefly near her
vehicle. Hinkle denies this occurred, and testified that
Laws, Jr., only told her that it was “going to be
ok” from across the parking lot. Once the conversation
was over, Agent Flanagan testified that he went to Hinkle in
the rental vehicle, told her that she was not required to
come in and speak to him, and then asked if she would.
Hinkle's recollection again differs. She testified that
Agent Flanagan stood at the police door, motioned with his
finger for her to come in, and she obliged.
then followed Agent Flanagan into the department. At this
time, Hinkle's property, including her purse, cellphone,
and personal effects within the purse, had not been returned
to her. Hinkle was led to an interview room by Agent Flanagan
and another officer. The interrogation is captured on video.
See Docket 160-1. The video shows Hinkle being
directed by the officers to sit in the seat closest to the
door. Id. at 16:56. Agent Flanagan is seen closing
the door, and then opening it slightly. Id. Hinkle
testified that she was unaware that the door was cracked
open. Hinkle's cellphone was placed on the table before
her. Agent Flanagan began the interrogation by stating that
they were there in “not a great” situation.
Id. Hinkle makes a quick comment about not having
her ID, and then Agent Flanagan informs Hinkle that
“first of all, you're free to leave at any time.
You're not under arrest. We're not blocking the door.
If you want to leave, you tell me, ‘Hey, I want to
leave; I don't want to talk to you.' So just want to
make sure you understand that.” Id. at 16:57.
After this statement, Agent Flanagan begins questioning
Hinkle, who provides answers to his questions-including some
incriminating answers. At the conclusion of the interview,
Agent Flanagan remarks, “That's it. There's
your stuff . . . Then you guys are on your way.”
Id. at 17:26-17:27. Hinkle's purse and other
personal effects were returned to her, although the drug
paraphernalia, some documents, and her cellphone were
retained during the search. Hinkle and Laws, Jr., were not
arrested and both left.
raises four objections to Magistrate Judge Duffy's Report
and Recommendation related to her rights under the Fifth
Amendment. Docket 181. First, Hinkle objects that Magistrate
Judge Duffy did not enter a specific finding of fact as to
Agent Flanagan's admonishment. Id. at 1-2.
Second, Hinkle objects to Magistrate Judge Duffy's
finding that Hinkle's freedom was unrestrained during the
police questioning. Id. at 2-4. Third, Hinkle
objects to Magistrate Judge Duffy's finding that there
were no deceptive stratagems used during the questioning.
Id. at 4. Finally, Hinkle ...