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United States v. Cook

United States District Court for the District of Columbia
526 F.Supp.2d 1 (2007)


The federal government (plaintiff) prosecuted Stephen Cook (defendant), a deputy in the United States Marshal Service (USMS), for assaulting Omar Hunter, a USMS prisoner, and for making false statements in routine preliminary reports of the incident, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a)(1) and (a)(2). Cook moved to keep the statements out of evidence. Citing Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493 (1967), Cook argued that he was unconstitutionally compelled into filing self-incriminating reports, lest he lose his job for not doing so. The trial judge heard evidence on Cook's motion. Cook's supervisor said that Hunter's assault allegation was typical of many others that prisoners lodged against deputies, and that in such cases the supervisor routinely instructed deputies to file incident reports. Cook testified that he believed he would be fired if he did not obey the supervisor's instruction. A senior USMS official testified that, at the time Cook filed his reports, it was not certain that Cook faced a formal USMS investigation or criminal prosecution for the Hunter incident. The official also said that had Cook refused to file incident reports, the USMS might have disciplined him but almost certainly would not have fired him.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Huvelle, J.)

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