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United States v. Giles

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

August 15, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Jon Giles, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued May 28, 2019

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 14 CR 00112-1 - Ronald A. Guzman, Judge.

          Before Wood, Chief Judge, and Bauer and Easterbrook, Circuit Judges.

          Bauer, Circuit Judge.

         After Jon Giles's DNA was found at the scene of the robbery of North Community Bank, FBI agents interrogated him at the Pontiac Correctional Center where he was serving a prison term for two other bank robberies. Giles confessed to the robbery. Giles argues the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress the confession, because his prolonged solitary confinement prior to the interview rendered him incapable of exercising a voluntary and knowing waiver of his Fifth Amendment rights. Giles also argues that the district court failed to properly address his mitigating arguments at sentencing. For the reasons that follow, we reject these arguments and affirm the orders of the district court.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 2010, Jon Giles pleaded guilty to state robbery charges. Giles spent the next two years in solitary confinement at Tamms Correctional Center. When Tamms was shuttered, Giles was transferred to Pontiac Correctional Center. He spent one month in general population before returning to isolation from January 2013 until January 2014.

         On August 30, 2013, during this period of solitary confinement, FBI agents Timothy Bacha and Michael Lovernick questioned Jon Giles. They were investigating a bank robbery at North Community Bank that took place in 2009. DNA recovered from a glove found near the crime scene matched Giles's DNA. The glove was found next to dye-stained money stolen from the bank.

         At first, Giles refused to meet with the agents. Robin Lopeman, a Pontiac correctional officer, approached Giles's cell with Bacha's business card. Giles requested that she show the card to Robert Hall, a fellow inmate and former gang associate, following a "home-grown" prison custom of letting other inmates know where you are going and who you are talking to. Hall shouted his consent and Giles agreed to speak to the agents.

         Bacha and Lovernick read Giles his Miranda rights, and he agreed in writing to be questioned without an attorney present. Giles initially denied his involvement in the North Community Bank robbery until he was shown the DNA report and photographs of the dyed money. Giles then confessed to the robbery and agreed to a cheek swab after being advised of his right to refuse. The swab matched the DNA found on the glove.

         Giles was indicted on March 4, 2014, on one count of bank robbery under 18 U.S.C. § 2113 and one count of using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). He moved to suppress the confession, arguing that neither his Miranda waiver nor his confession were made voluntarily. In support of this claim, Giles cited his long-term confinement in a "small windowless cell" which provided little opportunity for human interaction. Giles said his mental state was "precarious" and that he had experienced symptoms of "acute anxiety attacks, insomnia ... uncontrollable rage" and "hallucinations."

         At an evidentiary hearing, Giles called psychiatrist Dr. Silberberg who testified that he conducted a forensic psychiatric evaluation of Giles on November 4, 2014, and had reviewed administrative and medical records. Dr. Silberberg stated that prolonged isolation could result in impaired memory, attention, and concentration. Isolation could also affect the ability to make rational decisions, and cause mood disorders. He testified that the effects could be temporary, and that a person might be competent at one point in time but not another. Dr. Silberberg recited Giles's medical history, which included treatment for psychological disorders and repeated head trauma, and concluded that Giles would be particularly vulnerable to the effects of isolation. He concluded that Giles did not appreciate the significance of the Miranda warning and that his confession was not voluntary.

         Lopeman described Giles's initial refusal to speak with the FBI agents; and how she showed Hall Bacha's business card as Giles requested. Hall testified that he knew Giles for 17 years, that both were members of the Four Corner Hustlers gang, and corroborated Lopeman's testimony regarding Bacha's business card. He said he spoke to Giles regularly and had no difficulty communicating with him.

         Bacha corroborated the statements of Lopeman and Hall. He testified that Giles read a form informing him of his Miranda rights, recited the consent portion back to Bacha without any difficulty, and then signed the form agreeing to be interviewed without an attorney present. Giles denied involvement with the robbery until being shown the DNA evidence; Giles then described ...

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