United States v. Warrington, No. 22-7003 (10th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Defendant-appellant Edmond Warrington was charged in Oklahoma state court after he engaged in sexual activity with his mentally disabled, 18-year-old adopted niece. When the U.S. Supreme Court decided McGirt v. Oklahoma, 140 S. Ct. 2452 (2020), the federal government took over prosecution for the alleged sexual abuse. The district court denied a motion to suppress inculpatory statements Warrington made to federal agents during transport from state to federal custody. Warrington proceeded to trial, where he was convicted by a jury of three counts of sexual abuse in Indian Country and sentenced to 144 months’ imprisonment on each count, to run concurrently. The court also imposed a $15,000 special assessment under the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (“JVTA”), a penalty of $5,000 for each count of conviction. On appeal, Warrington argued: (1) the district court erred in denying his suppression motion because the agents questioned him in violation of the Sixth Amendment; and (2) the court plainly erred in imposing the JVTA assessment on a per count basis instead of imposing one $5,000 penalty in the case. The Tenth Circuit concluded the Sixth Amendment right to counsel had not yet attached in the federal proceeding and, in any event, Warrington voluntarily waived his right to counsel after receiving a Miranda warning, therefore, the district court did not err in denying the motion to suppress. Warrington’s second issue raised was an issue of first impression for the Tenth Circuit, and the Court concluded the trial court did not commit plain error.