Seventh Circuit Holds Defendant Did Not Invoke His 6th Amendment Right to Counsel

In this case, the defendant was charged with robbing federal property, brandishing a firearm during a
crime of violence, being a felon in possession of firearms, and possessing stolen firearms.

This case has two holdings. The first is that robbing a person in lawful custody of U.S. property is a “crime of violence” 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). This affirms established circuit precedent, and the defense made the argument to preserve the issue for further litigation. The defense argument that robbery of federal property is not a crime
of violence since it can be accomplished by “intimidation” was rejected.

The second is that the defendant had not invoked his right to counsel. Here, the defendant at one time stopped the interview and stated that “Actually, I want to change that. I haven’t even gotten a chance to get a lawyer or anything.”

Agents decided to continue the interview because they did not believe this was a legal invocation of his right to counsel. Later, the defendant said, “Maybe I should have a lawyer.”

The defendant’s motion to suppress his statements was denied. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, holding that there was nothing in this statement that had a suggested course of action, such as a request for a phone call. This case has a good summary of other cases where the Seventh Circuit has found the defendant invoked counsel. Because there was no action words in the defendant’s statement concerning counsel, the Seventh Circuit decided he did not invoke his Sixth Amendment protections.

The Seventh Circuit also held, in the alternative, that he voluntarily waived his rights when he later agreed to be interviewed without counsel.

The case is United States v. Walker Hampton, 16-4094.

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