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Monday, April 06, 2009

Corley v. United States - Presentment Delay Still Subject to McNabb-Mallory, as Limited by 3501

Title 18 U.S.C. § 3501 – read together with Fed. R. Crim. P. Rule 5(a), McNabb v. United States, 318 U.S. 332 (1943), and Mallory v. United States, 354 U.S. 449 (1957) – requires that a confession taken more than six hours after arrest and before presentment be suppressed if there was unreasonable or unnecessary delay in bringing the defendant before the magistrate judge. Section 3501 modified McNabb-Mallory but did not supplant it. Johnnie Corley was convicted of bank robbery. The only evidence introduced at trial identifying Mr. Corley as a participant in the robbery consisted of two statements law enforcement obtained from him more than six hours after his arrest, and before he was brought to a federal magistrate. Mr. Corley did not see the magistrate until nearly 30 hours after his arrest. The sequence of events began when Corley was arrested at 8:00 a.m. on September 17, 2003, after federal and state law enforcement identified him as a suspect in the bank robbery. He was arrested on an outstanding bench warrant from state court. During the arrest, Corley resisted and had a physical altercation with an FBI agent. As a result, he was placed under federal arrest for assault on a federal officer and taken to a local police station for processing. At 11:45 a.m., he was taken from the police station to a hospital in Philadelphia, where he was admitted at 12:12 p.m. He received five sutures and was discharged at 3:20 p.m. Corley was next brought to the FBI office in Philadelphia, arriving at 3:30 p.m. Although the FBI offices are located in the same building as the federal magistrate judges’ courtrooms and chambers, he was not presented to a federal magistrate judge. Instead, he was kept in the FBI offices for interrogation regarding the bank robbery. By this point, 7 ½ hours had already elapsed since his arrest. The only apparent reason for the delay in presentment following the hospital discharge was the agents’ desire to question Corley. At 5:07 p.m. – still without being presented to a magistrate judge, and after being informed he was under arrest for assault on a federal officer and under investigation for bank robbery – Corley signed a waiver of rights form. He confessed shortly afterwards, but when asked to put his confession in writing, said that he was tired and asked to continue the following day. The interrogation resumed at 10:30 a.m. on September 18. Corley signed a written confession soon afterwards. He finally appeared before a federal magistrate judge to be informed of his rights at 1:30 p.m. – 29 ½ hours after his arrest. The district court judge found that both the oral and written statements were voluntary and denied a motion to suppress the statements. The district court also found that the oral statement was made within six hours of the arrest. On appeal, the majority decision of the Third Circuit did not dispute that both statements were outside the six-hour period and that the district court erred in this regard, but ruled that governing circuit precedent allowed admission of the statements because they were given voluntarily. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded: "The question here is whether Congress intended 18 U.S.C. § 3501 to discard, or merely to narrow, the rule in McNabb v. United States, 318 U.S. 332 (1943), and Mallory v. United States, 354 U.S. 449 (1957), under which an arrested person’s confession is inadmissible if given after an unreasonable delay in bringing him before a judge. We hold that Congress meant to limit, not eliminate, McNabb-Mallory."