Where a defendant argued that statements he made to the police without benefit of counsel about a gun involved in a felon-in-possession charge should have been suppressed, but he knowingly waived his right to counsel by voluntarily answering a detective’s questions after being informed of his Miranda rights, his challenge failed.
Jovon Medley appeals his felon in possession of a firearm conviction and sentence. Regarding his conviction, Medley challenges the district court’s denial of his motion to suppress statements he made to the police, without the benefit of counsel, about the gun involved in the felon-in-possession charge. Regarding his sentence, he argues that the district court’s application of a sentencing guidelines enhancement, based on its finding that Medley used the firearm to commit a carjacking, violated his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial because it was based on acquitted conduct.
Medley concedes that he was not federally charged at the time of his interview. However, he argues that the right to counsel nevertheless attached to his federal felon-in-possession charge because it is the same offense as the D.C. felon-in-possession charge.
Even assuming, without deciding, that Medley’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel had attached to his federal felon-in-possession charge on the day that he was questioned by Detective Dalton, Medley waived the right because he never made a clear, unambiguous assertion of the right to counsel after receiving his Miranda warnings.
Medley never made a clear, unambiguous assertion of his right to counsel after receiving his Miranda warnings. He did not request his attorney, ask for the interview to stop or say anything that “a reasonable police officer in the circumstances would understand … to be a request for an attorney.” Instead, Medley knowingly and intelligently waived his right to counsel by voluntarily answering Dalton’s questions after being properly informed of his Miranda rights.
A defendant who waives his Sixth Amendment right to counsel may still challenge his waiver by establishing it was based on misrepresentation or deception by the state. Medley argues Detective Dalton misled him by stating that he was not interested in Medley’s D.C. case. He claims that, because of Dalton’s statement, Medley did not understand that by answering Dalton’s questions, he was waiving his right to counsel regarding his D.C. felon-in-possession charge. As a result, Medley claims that he “did not knowingly and intelligently waive his Sixth Amendment right to counsel in the D.C. case.”
However, this is an appeal from Medley’s federal case and only concerns whether he waived his right to counsel regarding his federal charges. The use of Medley’s statements in his D.C. case is not at issue here. What is at issue is whether Dalton’s representations prevented Medley from making a knowing or voluntary waiver of his Fifth or Sixth Amendment rights regarding his subsequent federal charges. Medley does not even make this claim and, even if he had, the court sees no support for it in this record.
Medley next claims that the sentencing enhancement violated his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial because it was based on acquitted conduct. He concedes that this argument is foreclosed by Supreme Court and Fourth Circuit precedent. However, consistent with a growing number of critics of this practice, he explains his objections to it. Whether or not the court agrees or disagrees with the precedent, it is bound to follow it.
Medley also argues that the district court’s application of the guidelines enhancement constituted clear error because there was insufficient evidence to find that he committed the Maryland carjacking. Under the clear error standard, however, the court cannot say that the district court erred by enhancing Medley’s sentence when it found, based on a preponderance of the evidence, that he used the Rock Island firearm in connection with the carjacking of Elton Wright.
United States v. Medley, Case No. 18-4789, May 11, 2022. 4th Cir. (Quattlebaum), from DMD at Greenbelt (Grimm). Cullen Oakes Macbeth for Appellant. Burden Hastings Walker for Appellee. VLW 022-2-119. 19 pp.