Monday, July 28, 2014

U.S. v. Gowadia (9th Cir. - July 28, 2014)

Say you wake up one morning and find that the FBI is conducting a search warrant at your house.  But you've done nothing wrong, you figure.  So you talk to them.

There's got to be a mistake.  Talking to them will clear things up.  It'll be better than looking guilty.

Seems like you're right.  After six hours, they leave.  Don't arrest you, don't nothing.  They ask you if you'll continue the conversations the next day at a coffee shop.  You agree.

It's hard to talk there, so you continue the conversation at the Maui Police Department.  But, to repeat, you've done nothing wrong.  They repeatedly tell you you're free to leave.  And, indeed, at the end of the six-and-a-half hours of chatting, you leave of your own volition.

Then they ask you if you'll fly to Honolulu to continue your chats.  They'll even pay.  You agree.  It's been going reasonably well.  They seem to understand.  No arrest.  Nothing.  You're explaining things.  It's all a misunderstanding.  Once they get it, they'll leave you alone.  And, again, you're totally free to leave.

The next week is a blur.  Seven sessions.  Around 7 hours each day.  You explain and explain and explain.  But, again, they're treating you right.  They seem to get it.

Finally, one day, you arrive via taxi for yet another conversation.  At which point they arrest you.

Next thing you know, you're being sentenced to 32 years in prison for selling military secrets to China and a plethora of other offenses.

Now, maybe you should have thought more deeply about things before you made those six trips to China and charged that government six figures for telling them "how a Chinese cruise missile, if modified with [your] designs, would perform against a United States AIM-9 class missile."  That's conduct that we somewhat frown upon.  Surprising, I know.

But we nonetheless appreciate your willingness to talk with the FBI seemingly forever without ever getting an attorney involved.  It makes things so much more efficient when you're willing to dig your own grave.