Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

McKathan: Probationer was "Compelled" For Fifth Amendment Purposes to Truthfully Answer Probation Officer's Questions

 In McKathan v. United States, No. 17-13358 (Aug. 12, 2020) (Rosenbaum, Branch, Dubina), the Court vacated the denial of a 2255 motion asserting ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to file a motion to suppress statements that he made to a probation officer while he was on supervised release.

 The question was whether the movant would have established a violation of his privilege against self-incrimination.  Because he never invoked the privilege, he had to show that he was compelled to make the incriminating statements.  Resolving that question affirmatively, the Court concluded that, in light of binding precedent, he was faced with a “classic penalty situation” because he could reasonably believe that his supervised release would be revoked if he did not truthfully answer the probation officer’s questions.  The Court remanded for the district court to determine if the statements would been admissible based on the inevitable discovery doctrine.

 Judge Branch dissented, opining that it was unreasonable for the movant to believe he faced a “classic penalty situation.”