United States District Court, D. New Mexico
ORDER ADOPTING CHIEF MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S PROPOSED
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION
MATTER is before the Court on Chief Magistrate Judge
Carmen E. Garza's Proposed Findings and Recommended
Disposition (the “PFRD”), (Doc. 69), filed
May 2, 2019; Defendant Jade Tiffany Laurezo's
Objections to the Proposed Findings and Recommended
Disposition Regarding Motion to Suppress Statements,
(Doc. 73), filed May 16, 2019; the Government's
Objections to Proposed Findings and Recommended
Disposition Regarding Defendant's Motion to Suppress
Statements, (Doc. 72), filed May 16, 2019; Ms.
Laurezo's Response to Government's
Objections, (Doc. 80), filed May 31, 2019; and the
Government's Response to Defendant's
Objections, (Doc. 78), filed May 31, 2019. In the PFRD,
the Chief Magistrate Judge recommended that Ms. Laurezo's
Motion to Suppress Statements, (Doc. 27), be denied.
(Doc. 69 at 21).
parties were informed that objections to the Chief Magistrate
Judge's opinion were due within fourteen days of service
of the PFRD in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).
Id. Ms. Laurezo and the Government both timely
objected to the PFRD on May 16, 2019. (Doc. 72); (Doc. 73).
In addition, both parties filed Responses on May 31, 2019.
(Doc. 78); (Doc. 80). Following a de novo review of
the Motion to Suppress Statements, PFRD,
the Objections, and the Responses, the Court will overrule
the Objections, adopt the PFRD, and deny the Motion to
Jade Tiffany Laurezo is a native of the Philippines and was
visiting the United States to complete a Federal Aviation
Administration licensure exam. (Doc. 73 at 1); (Doc. 50 at
53). The facts of this case are fully set forth in Chief
Magistrate Judge Garza's PFRD, detailing Ms.
Laurezo's history in the United States, English language
abilities, and the investigation that led to her arrest.
(Doc. 69 at 1-7). The following is a brief recitation of the
pertinent facts before the Court.
morning of June 27, 2018, approximately eight law enforcement
officers arrived at 3809 Zinnia Road in Roswell, New Mexico
and executed a search warrant in connection with suspected
possession of child pornography. (Doc. 51 at 25). The
officers approached the home with their firearms positioned
in the “low ready” position, and commanded Ms.
Laurezo and the other occupants of the home to exit through
the front door. Id. at 54. In compliance with the
search warrant, law enforcement officers seized a number of
electronic devices from the 3809 Zinnia Road residence,
including Ms. Laurezo's Samsung DUOS cellphone.
Id. at 32.
afternoon of July 3, 2018, Sergeant Hector Ramirez and Deputy
Will Seely arrived at the 3809 Zinnia Road residence and
inquired if Ms. Laurezo would be willing to visit the Chaves
County Sheriff's Department for an interview. (Doc. 51 at
70-75). After Ms. Laurezo agreed to undergo an interview and
opted to drive separately, Deputy Seely and Sergeant Ramirez
waited outside in their patrol units for roughly fifteen
minutes until Ms. Laurezo left the home. Id. at 75.
At first, Sergeant Ramirez and Deputy Seely both followed Ms.
Laurezo en route to the Sheriff's Department, but as the
driver began to take an intentionally indirect route, Deputy
Seely stopped following the vehicle. Id. Sergeant
Ramirez followed Ms. Laurezo and the driver, Donald Roberson,
until their arrival at the Sheriff's Department.
arriving at the Sheriff's Department, Ms. Laurezo was
first interviewed by immigration officials to inquire about
the effects of an arrest on her visa status. (Doc. 51 at
86-87). After her interview with immigration officials, Ms.
Laurezo was escorted to a second interview room where she was
met by Detective Raul Valderaz and Sergeant Doug Perham.
(Doc. 36-1 at 1-8). Ms. Laurezo initially struggled to
understand the Advice of Rights form presented to her by
Detective Valderaz, but she eventually signed the form and
agreed to be interviewed regarding the officers'
investigation of sexual exploitation of a child. Id.
at 8-16. At the end of the interview, Ms. Laurezo was placed
under arrest for possession of child pornography.
Id. at 114. Ms. Laurezo now moves to suppress her
statements made to Detective Valderaz and Sergeant Perham
during her July 3, 2018 interview. (Doc. 27).
PFRD, the Chief Magistrate Judge found that Ms. Laurezo was
in custody during her July 3, 2018 interview with law
enforcement but she voluntarily waived her Fifth Amendment
rights. (Doc. 69 at 21). As such, the Chief Magistrate Judge
recommended that Ms. Laurezo's Motion to Suppress
Statements be denied. Id. The Government has
objected to the PFRD's conclusion that Ms. Laurezo was in
custody during her interview and contends instead that she
was free to terminate the interview and leave at any time.
(Doc. 72 at 2-16). Ms. Laurezo makes no objection to the
Chief Magistrate Judge's conclusion that she was in
custody but instead argues she did not knowingly and
voluntarily waive her Fifth Amendment rights. (Doc. 73 at
4-14). In addition, Ms. Laurezo alleges that because she was
in custody during the July 3, 2018 interview, the statements
she made before she was read her Miranda rights must
be suppressed. The Court will address each argument in turn,
beginning with the factual objections presented by both
resolving objections to a magistrate judge's
recommendation, the district judge must make a de
novo determination regarding any part of the
recommendation to which a party has properly objected. 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). Filing objections that address
the primary issues in the case “advances the interests
that underlie the Magistrate's Act, including judicial
efficiency.” United States v. One Parcel of Real
Prop., With Bldgs., Appurtenances, Improvements, &
Contents, 73 F.3d 1057, 1059 (10th Cir. 1996).
Objections must be timely and specific to preserve an issue
for de novo review by the district court or for
appellate review. Id. at 1060. Additionally, issues
“raised for the first time in objections to the
magistrate judge's recommendation are deemed
waived.” Marshall v. Chater, 75 F.3d 1421,
1426 (10th Cir. 1996); see also United States v.
Garfinkle, 261 F.3d 1030, 1031 (10th Cir. 2001).
Ms. Laurezo has objected to the following factual findings
presented in the PFRD: (1) Ms. Laurezo was in the United
States “stud[ying] in pursuit of a Federal Aviation
Administration certificate to train aircraft maintenance
personnel for U.S. based customers, ” (Doc. 73 at 1);
(2) after the search warrant was executed on June 27, 2018,
“the occupants [of the home] were permitted to return
inside, ” id. at 2; (3) “Ms. Laurezo
agreed to speak with law enforcement at the sheriff's
department, ” id.; (4) “Although she was
offered a ride by Deputy Seely, Ms. Laurezo chose to drive
separately with Donnie Roberson, ” id.; and
(5) “She ultimately decided to forego a visit to her
neighbor's home and instead proceeded directly to the
Sheriff's Department, ” id.
Laurezo contends the above facts “misrepresent”
the “posture of Ms. Laurezo[‘s case]” or
are not otherwise supported by the record. Id. Ms.
Laurezo clarifies that she “reluctantly went to the
Sheriff's office because she had no choice” and she
“did not voluntarily forego a visit to the
neighbor's home[, ] [s]he did not go because she was
being followed.” Id. The Court finds that even
if each of these facts were modified to represent Ms.
Laurezo's framing of the case, the outcome and analysis
would remain unchanged. For example, whether Ms. Laurezo was
in the United States to simply study or to take an exam has
no bearing on the Court's conclusion that her English
proficiency is sufficient to voluntarily waive her Fifth
Amendment rights. As such, the Court will overrule Ms.
Laurezo's factual objections.
Government similarly seeks to reframe factual assertions
presented in the PFRD to support its position. For example,
it disputes how the PFRD “characterized” the
interaction between law enforcement and Ms. Laurezo on July
3, 2018, (Doc. 72 at 7), and contends the Chief Magistrate
Judge “omitted” certain facts from her analysis,
(Doc. 72 at 8). The PFRD and hearing transcripts reflect that
the Chief Magistrate Judge viewed video evidence, heard
testimony from witnesses, and read transcribed statements
presented by the Government during the hearing, pertaining
specifically to the interactions between law enforcement
officials and Ms. Laurezo on July 3, 2018. See,
e.g., (Doc. 69 at 1-21). Thus, even if the Court were to
modify the PFRD to reflect the more favorable language
proposed by the Government, the conclusion and analysis in
this case demonstrate a thorough review of the record and
would remain unchanged.
the Government highlights two facts derived from Ms.
Laurezo's Findings of Fact and Conclusions of
Law, (Doc. 56), that were presented in the PFRD which it
contends are incorrect. First, the Government argues there is
no proof that Deputy Seely pointed his firearm at Ms. Laurezo
during the execution of the search warrant on June 27, 2018.
(Doc. 72 at 7). The Court agrees there is no direct evidence
illustrating that Deputy Seely pointed his firearm at Ms.
Laurezo. However, the lapel camera footage reveals that
Deputy Seely's firearm was drawn when he approached the
3809 Zinnia Road residence and it remained in the “low
ready position, ” pointed at the home and its
occupants, until everyone inside the home had exited.
See (Doc. 80 at 3). Thus, Ms. Laurezo's
statement that Deputy Seely “was one of the deputies
that had pointed a gun [at her] when the search warrant was
executed, ” is a reasonable inference. See
(Doc. 56 at 2). The Court will therefore overrule the
the Government notes the officers were not in uniform when
they questioned Ms. Laurezo. (Doc. 72 at 5, note 3). The
Court agrees that all of the law enforcement officers who
interviewed Ms. Laurezo were in civilian clothing on July 3,
2018. See (Doc. 51 at 91); (Gov. Ex.
49); see contra (Doc. 80 at 4) (Ms. Laurezo's
Response) (“[T]hree uniformed men were waiting for her
in the initial interview room.”). The Court is mindful
that the Tenth Circuit will “accept the district
court's factual findings” and seeks to preserve the
most accurate record for any future proceedings. See
United States v. Jones, 523 F.3d 1235, 1239 (10th Cir.
2008) (citations omitted). Therefore, for purposes of keeping
an accurate record, the Court will modify the Chief
Magistrate Judge's PFRD to reflect that the officers and
immigration officials who interviewed Ms. Laurezo were not in
uniform on July 3, 2018. In all other respects, the
PFRD's factual recitation of this case remains unaltered.
Government first argues the PFRD “emphasized the
subjective mindset of [Ms.] Laurezo and the officers, both of
which are not relevant to the custody analysis.” (Doc.
72 at 3). Specifically, the Government contests the relevance
of two facts set forth in the PFRD: (1) the police
officers' previously formed intent to “charge [Ms.
Laurezo] with a crime, ” even before she arrived at the
police station; and (2) Ms. Laurezo's confusion regarding
the “distinction between the immigration officials and