Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Hinkle

United States District Court, D. South Dakota, Southern Division

December 3, 2019

ERIN M. HINKLE, Defendant.



         Defendant, 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.


         This 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).


         A full 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:[1]

         Agent 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.

         During 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.

         After 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.

         Hinkle's 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.

         Agent 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.

         Agent 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.

         Hinkle 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.


         Hinkle 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 ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.