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United States v. Schaefer

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

May 7, 2019


          William Narus Natalie K. Wight U.S. Attorney's Office Attorneys for Plaintiff

          Jason Paul Schaefer Pro se Defendant

          Lisa Ludwig Ludwig Runstein LLC Tiffany A. Harris Tiffany A. Harris, Attorney at Law Stand-by Attorneys for Defendant

          OPINION & ORDER


         Defendant Jason Paul Schaefer is charged with two counts of assault on a federal officer in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111(a) and (b); one count of carrying and using a destructive device during and in relation to a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(B)(ii); one count of using an explosive to commit a federal felony in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(h)(1); one count of carrying an explosive during the commission of a federal felony in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(h)(2); one count of unlawful transport of explosive materials in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 842(a)(3)(A) and 844(a); one count of possession of an unregistered destruction device in violation of 26 U.S.C. §§ 5841, 586l(d), 5871; and one count of felon in possession of explosives in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 842(i)(1) and 844(a).

         Mr. Schaefer, proceeding pro se, filed fifteen pretrial motions in this case between April 5, 2019 and April 11, 2019. Five of those motions were either denied or withdrawn at oral argument on April 24, 2019. The remaining motions include:

(1) Motion to dismiss for speedy trial act violations [146];
(2) Motion to dismiss for Brady violations [150];
(3) Motion to dismiss for outrageous government misconduct [160];
(4) Four motions to suppress evidence [152][155][158][162];
(5) Motion for a Franks hearing [164]; and
(6) Two motions to compel discovery [148][183].

         Additionally, Defendant's motion to suppress statements, filed October 27, 2018, remains pending at this time.

         For the reasons that follow, Defendant's motion to compel discovery [183] is denied in part and granted in part. The Court denies all other motions.


         Mr. Schaefer made a series of online purchases from eBay between March and September of 2017. On September 21, 2017, FBI agents in Portland learned of these purchases. Included among these purchases were a number of chemicals that agents determined could be used to make explosives.

         On October 10, 2017, agents obtained a search warrant for Mr. Schaefer's apartment. In the request for this warrant, agents relied in part on information provided by eBay. This information was originally volunteered and subsequently produced in response to a grand jury subpoena. Agents also relied on information from a previous encounter with Mr. Schaefer in April 2017. In that encounter, police responded to a hazardous material call and found mercury inside Mr. Schaefer's garage.[2]

         When Mr. Schaefer's probation officer learned a search warrant had been issued, she called Mr. Schaefer and ordered him to appear in her office the following morning. When he appeared the morning of October 11, 2017, law enforcement officers-from the FBI, Washington County Sheriff's Office, Portland Police Bureau, Oregon State Police, and other agencies-executed the warrant at his vacant apartment. After Mr. Schaefer left the probation office, officers, working in coordination with those executing the warrant, attempted to follow him. After they lost contact, Mr. Schaefer's probation officer told officers she would issue a detainer on defendant for violating the terms of his probation.

         Mr. Schaefer eventually returned to his apartment complex. When officers recognized his car, they attempted to stop him. Despite being told he was under arrest, he drove away. After a short pursuit, Mr. Schaefer's car came to a stop in traffic. Two officers used their cars to box him in, drew their guns, and ordered him out of the car. Instead of complying with these commands, Mr. Schaefer stated something to the effect of “we're all going to die” and ignited a cigarette package he was holding. The cigarette package detonated, and Mr. Schaefer's left hand was severely injured.

         Mr. Schaefer was arrested and transported to a hospital for medical treatment.[3] Meanwhile, Mr. Schaefer's car and its contents-including a second cigarette package-were searched without a warrant. The cigarette package allegedly contained TATP, an explosive material. Additional evidence, which included e-matches, chemicals, black powder, and what appeared to be a remoted firing system, was discovered in Mr. Schaefer's apartment pursuant to the original warrant. Officers also seized electronic storage devices, and a business card for a storage facility, with a unit listed on back. Officers immediately opened and secured the storage unit without a warrant. They did not observe any obvious threats to public safety but did observe a container that looked like a cooler. After later obtaining and executing a warrant for the storage unit, officers found additional incriminating evidence.

         Mr. Schaefer was indicted by grand juries in both Washington County and the federal District of Oregon.


         I. Motion to Suppress Statements

         On October 27, 2018, Defendant filed a motion to suppress the statements he made to law enforcement and to his parents.[4] He argues these statements were obtained in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, (1966) and were involuntary under the Due Process Clause. He argues, in part, that he was in immense pain and distress, and was under the influence of Ibogaine[5] and powerful pain medication.

         On November 20, 2018, the Court held oral argument on the motion. As stated on the record, and in the Opinion & Order issued January 17, 2019 (hereinafter “O&O”), the Court reserved ruling on the issue and stated that “to the extent the parties wish to present evidence on Defendant's Motion to Suppress Statements [71], the Court will hear this evidence, and any further argument, at the pretrial conference.”

         On April 29, 2019, the Court again heard argument on the motion. The government did not present any additional evidence, but rather clarified which statements it proposed introducing at trial. These included:

(1) Statements captured by body camera footage from the April 2017 incident;
(2) Defendant's statements to an officer in the parking lot of Defendant's apartment complex, prior to the detonation of an explosive;
(3) Defendant's alleged threats immediately preceding the detonation of an explosive;
(4) Statements captured on a video of Defendant, taken immediately after the detonation of an explosive; and
(5) Jail calls between Defendant and his father.

         As an initial matter, the Court granted Defendant's motion in limine to exclude all evidence related to the April 2017 incident. This includes the body-cam footage that recorded Defendant's statements.[6] Defendant has also indicated that he does not object to the introduction of the video that captured statements he made immediately following the detonation of an explosive.

         As to the remaining statements, the Court finds Defendant's arguments, relying on alleged Miranda and Due Process Clause violations, without merit. Under Miranda “the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination prohibits admitting statements given by a suspect during ‘custodial interrogation' without a prior warning.” Illinois v. Perkins, 496 U.S. 292, 296 (1990). A custodial interrogation is “questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way.” Id. (quoting Miranda, 384 U.S. at 444). Involuntary confessions are also inadmissible under the Due Process Clause. Colorado v. Connelly, 479 U.S. 157 (1986); Brown v. Horell, 644 F.3d 969, 979 (9th Cir. 2011). However, “coercive police activity is a necessary predicate to the finding that a confession is not ‘voluntary' within the meaning of the Due Process Clause[.]” Connelly, 479 U.S. at 167.

         Here, Defendant's statements were not the product of custodial interrogations. Defendant was not in custody when he made statements before the explosion. Defendant's statements to his father were just that-a recorded conversation between a father and son-and not the product of a police interrogation. While Defendant may argue he was heavily medicated and in extreme pain and distress following a traumatic injury and surgery, the Court found, after listening to the recordings, that Defendant was clear and coherent. As stated on the record, any medicine he may have been taking did not impact his ability to communicate or understand the context of his conversations. Moreover, Defendant has failed to identify any coercive police activity to support a finding that his statements were not voluntary under the Due Process Clause.

         Defendant's motion to suppress statements is therefore denied.

         II. Motion to Dismiss for Violations of the Speedy Trial Act

         Defendant moves to dismiss the case for Speedy Trial Act violations. Defendant first states that “the government took 40 days to transport [him] to [the] competency evaluation, and about 15 days to transport [him] back to Portland[.]” Def. Mot. to Dismiss/Speedy Trial, ECF 146. In his reply, Defendant argues that (1) the Court abused its discretion and pressured Defendant to waive his speedy trial rights on January 30, 2018 and June 18, 2018; (2) the government moved for the competency evaluation in bad faith; (3) the government has filed three superseding indictments based on the same evidence; (4) the time between September 24, 2018 and March 23, 2019 was improperly excluded without Defendant's consent; and (5) the Court failed to rule on the first round of pretrial motions within thirty days.

         Under the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 3161-3174, a defendant must be brought to trial “within seventy days from the filing date . . . of the information or indictment, or from the date the defendant has appeared before a judicial officer of the court in which such charge is pending, whichever date last occurs.” 18 U.S.C. § 3161(c)(1); United States v. Medina, 524 F.3d 974, 978 (9th Cir. 2008). However, those seventy days are tolled pursuant to certain “automatic” exclusions outlined in the Act. Medina, 524 F.3d at 978. For example, under § 3161(h)(1)(F), a court must exclude “delay resulting from any pretrial motion, from the filing of the motion through the conclusion of the hearing on, or other prompt disposition of, such motion.” § 3161(h)(1)(F); Medina, 524 F.3d at 978. A court must also exclude “delay reasonably attributable to any period, not to exceed thirty days, during which any proceeding concerning the defendant is actually under advisement by the court.” § 3161(h)(1)(J).

         For purposes of the Speedy Trial Act, there are two types of pretrial motions: those that require a hearing, and those that do not. Medina, 524 F.3d at 978. Generally, if a pretrial motion

requires a hearing, a district court must exclude the following periods of delay: (i) the period from the date the motion was filed to the conclusion of the hearing; (ii) the period from the conclusion of the hearing until the date the district court “receives all the submissions by counsel it needs to decide that motion; and (iii) the period from the last day of the period described in (i) or (ii), as applicable, until the court rules on the motion, but no more than 30 days, In general, the district court must exclude these periods of delay whether or not the delay was reasonably necessary. Moreover, the district court must exclude time while the motion is pending even if the court ultimately does not hold a hearing or rule on the motion.

Id. at 979 (citations and quotation marks omitted).

         The Court first addresses Defendant's argument regarding the government's delay in transporting him to the competency evaluation. Defendant is correct that transportation delays of more than ten days, calculated from the date of the order directing transportation to the arrival at the destination, are presumptively unreasonable. 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(1)(F). However, this time is properly and automatically excluded for another reason: the motion to suppress Defendant's statements, filed October 27, 2018, is resolved by this Opinion.

         A motion to suppress statements falls within the type of motions that normally requires an evidentiary hearing. Medina, 524 F.3d at 983. Here, the Court heard oral argument on the motion on November 20, 2018. Based on the record at the time, the Court determined that further evidence was necessary before a ruling could be issued. See O&O 13, ECF 121. The parties agreed to revisit the issue and present evidence at the pretrial conference. Thus, the ...

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