WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A man who applied for a job with the FBI and told agents he owned pictures of naked children cannot take back the interview answers that led to his conviction for possession of child pornography, a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday.
Dominick Pelletier interviewed with the FBI in Chicago in 2008 and after failing a polygraph test told agents about the images on his home computer, according to the ruling.
Agents then searched Pelletier’s home and found more than 600 images of children on the computer.
Pelletier, now 35, argued his statements could not be used against him because agents had not read him his rights as required by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1966 decision.
A Chicago-based federal appeals court disagreed, ruling that agents did not need to give a “Miranda warning” outlining his legal rights because Pelletier was not in custody at the time of the job interview.
He signed a consent form that said, “I am not in custody,” and did not act like a person in custody, the court ruled.
“Pelletier never expressed discomfort, asked to leave, or asked for an attorney,” wrote Judge Michael Kanne for a unanimous three-judge panel.
“Indeed, it seems that Pelletier left the interview room believing he was still in the running for an FBI job,” he wrote.
A lawyer for Pelletier declined to comment on the ruling. Pelletier is in prison and could be released in December 2017, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Pelletier continued talking about the pictures on his computer even after his interviewer called in a second agent, an armed cyber-crime investigator, according to the ruling.
But even then he was not in custody, the court said, because an applicant for an FBI job would expect “encounters with armed FBI agents.”
Pelletier pleaded guilty to one count of possessing child pornography but had reserved the right to appeal a lower judge’s ruling that his interview answers were admissible in court.
“Obviously, Pelletier did not get the job,” Kanne wrote.
The case is United States of America v. Dominick Pelletier, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, No. 12-1274.
Editing by Howard Goller and Jackie Frank