Court Rejects Jefferson Bid to Dismiss Evidence

Posted June 25, 2008 at 8:53am

A federal court has dismissed Rep. William Jefferson’s request to dismiss evidence that was gathered by FBI agents during an interrogation in the Louisiana Democrat’s home.

Jefferson, the subject of 16-count federal corruption indictment, had argued that when agents came to his home to interview him in August 2005, they did not read him his Miranda rights, thus all of his statements to the agents should be inadmissable in court.

But the court ruled Monday that the agents did not need to Mirandize Jefferson because he was not under arrest, and the conditions of his interview were not sufficient to lead the Congressman to believe he was under arrest.

Jefferson had pointed out in his motion and in a January hearing that one of the agents followed him to the bathroom, indicating that Jefferson was in custody. But Judge T.S. Ellis said this fact was not enough to suggest that Jefferson was under arrest. “Defendant here was interrogated in his own home by two agents whom he had invited in and whose questions he had voluntarily agreed to answer,” Ellis wrote. “The agents never displayed their firearms and never controlled defendant’s movements inside his own house.”

Jefferson’s motion was one of more than a dozen challenges he has raised to the charges the government has lodged against him. He is slated to go to trial in December on charges that he helped companies pursue contracts in Africa in exchange for payments to himself and his family members. Jefferson has denied any wrongdoing and announced last week that he would run for re-election this fall.