This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




State of Minnesota,



Jeremy Daniel Tibiatowski,


Filed February 24, 1998


Toussaint, Chief Judge

Clay County District Court

File No. KX961054

Hubert H. Humphrey, III, Attorney General, James B. Early, Assistant Attorney General, 1400 NCL Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondent)

Todd Webb, Clay County Attorney, Courthouse, 807 N. 11th Street, Moorhead, MN 56560 (for respondent)

John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Sharon E. Jacks, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue SE, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)

Considered and decided by Randall, Presiding Judge, Toussaint, Chief Judge, and Holtan, Judge.**

Retired judge of the district court, serving as judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.


TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge

Appellant, Jeremy D. Tibiatowski challenges the district court's order denying his motion to suppress evidence of an inculpatory statement made to a juvenile probation officer, arguing that the statement is inadmissible because the probation officer questioned him about the incident without first giving him a Miranda warning. Under the circumstances because the probation officer was acting as an agent of the state when she conducted the interrogation, we reverse.


We review the district court's Miranda determination de novo. State v. Hince, 540 N.W.2d 820, 823 (Minn. 1995).

"A Miranda warning is required when a police officer conducts a custodial interrogation of a suspect." Id. at 823 (citing Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 1612 (1966)). The parties do not dispute that Tibiatowski was in custody. Therefore, the only issues on appeal are whether the questioning constituted an interrogation, and whether Wheeler acted as an agent of the state.

"Interrogation" under Miranda refers "'not only to express questioning, but also to any words or actions on the part of the police (other than those normally attendant to arrest and custody) that the policy should know are reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating response from the suspect.'" State v. King, 513 N.W.2d 245, 248 (Minn. 1994) (quoting Rhode Island v. Innis, 446 U.S. 291, 301, 100 S. Ct. 1682, 1689 (1980)).

The federal and state courts have directly addressed whether custodial interrogation by a probation or parole officer is governed by Miranda:

These courts cite the psychological pressure bearing upon a defendant to answer his probation or parole officer's questions, and conclude that statements made in these situations should be presumed involuntary absent warnings, just as they are in the case of police interrogations.

State v. Willis, 825 P.2d 357, 359 (Wash App. 1992) (summarizing state and federal law regarding custodial interrogation conducted by nonpolice officials).

Regarding the admissibility of statements made to probation officers, the Fifth Circuit has stated:

We have considerable doubt as to the propriety of even calling the parole officer as a witness for such a purpose. But, pretermitting that, we have no doubt that the testimony was inadmissible unless the officer gave prior Miranda warnings. A parolee is under heavy psychological pressure to analyze inquiries made by his parole officer perhaps even greater than when the interrogation is by an enforcement officer.

United States v. Deaton, 468 F.2d 541, 544 (5th Cir. 1972). Similarly, the Ninth Circuit has held that "custodial statements made to probation officers are subject to the same voluntariness analysis as statements made to other law enforcement officers." United States v. Andaverde, 64 F.3d 1305, 1311 (9th Cir. 1995).

The state courts have applied Miranda to questioning initiated by probation officers. See, e.g., State v. Roberts, 513 N.E.2d 720, 725 (1987) (refusing to admit statements made to probation officer when Miranda warnings not given); Willis, 825 P.2d at 360 (applying Miranda to statements made to community corrections officer); State v. Helewa, 537 A.2d 1328, 1331-32 (N.J. Super. A.D. 1988) (applying Miranda to custodial interview conducted by Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) caseworker because of close working relationship between DYFS and the prosecutor's office).

Tibiatowski argues that the district court erred when it determined that Miranda warnings were not necessary because Connie Wheeler, a Division of Juvenile Services' case manager, was not a law enforcement officer, and the evidence was insufficient to demonstrate that Wheeler was an agent of the police and that she had acted in response to their direction. We conclude that that the district court's Miranda determination was in error because the evidence demonstrates that the questioning constituted an interrogation and that Wheeler acted as an agent of the police.

Because Wheeler was employed as a juvenile probation officer in North Dakota she had legal custody of the children she worked with. A few hours prior to talking with Tibiatowski, Wheeler's secretary left a message for her from Detective Norwig in Moorhead, stating that Minnesota wanted "a hold on Jeremy." Wheeler "assumed he must have been involved in something while he was on the run."

Following the message from Detective Norwig, Wheeler went to the Cass County Juvenile Detention center to find out, among other things, what he had done while on the run. There is no question that Wheeler's statements amounted to interrogation under the Innis standard. Wheeler observed that Tibiatowski "seemed bothered" and "more quiet" than usual and "asked him if there was anything he wanted to tell [her]." In response, Tibiatowski blurted out; "I committed a crime. I committed a robbery." Subsequent to interrogating Tibiatowski, Wheeler told Detective Norwig what Tibiatowski had said.

The record shows the police initiated contact with Wheeler prior to her visit, that she suspected Tibiatowski had engaged in criminal activity, that she asked him a question that was reasonably likely to elicit an incriminating statement, and that she subsequently went to the police and told them what he had said. Under the circumstances Wheeler engaged in custodial interrogation as an agent of the police. Therefore, Miranda warnings should have been given prior to such interrogation. Because no such warning was given, Tibiatowski's subsequent inculpatory statements should not have been admitted.