State v. Bracy

Citation971 N.W.2d 563
Decision Date18 March 2022
Docket Number19-1052
Parties STATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Patrick BRACY, Appellant.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa

971 N.W.2d 563

STATE of Iowa, Appellee,
Patrick BRACY, Appellant.

No. 19-1052

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Submitted September 15, 2021
Filed March 18, 2022

Martha J. Lucey, State Appellate Defender, Shellie Knipfer, Assistant Appellate Defender, and Kerrigan L. Owens, Law Student, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Bridget A. Chambers, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

Mansfield, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Christensen, C.J., and Waterman and McDonald, JJ., joined. Appel, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Oxley and McDermott, JJ., joined.


I. Introduction.

Our standard for review of search warrants is deferential. We consider whether the grant of the warrant had a substantial basis under the totality of the circumstances as disclosed in the warrant application. In this case, the detective supported his warrant application with a number of items. These included the fact that four different—although unidentified—individuals had reported the defendant as currently dealing in methamphetamine, the defendant's recent drug and weapons convictions, and the defendant's monitored phone calls from jail the previous day. In one call, the defendant discussed with his father the importance of not letting anything happen to his safe which had "everything." In the other, the defendant discussed with his female companion going through "shit" to pay off his debt, and the fact that "all that shit" was in the house. The magistrate found this information sufficient to justify a search warrant for the

971 N.W.2d 565

house. We conclude that the magistrate's determination had a substantial basis.

In reaching this conclusion, we emphasize that the entire warrant application should be considered. Items should not be excised merely because, by themselves, they are not particularly significant and would not establish probable cause. In other words, excision pursuant to Franks v. Delaware should occur only in the situation described in Franks v. Delaware : when statements in the warrant application were intentionally or recklessly false. See 438 U.S. 154, 158, 171–72, 98 S.Ct. 2674, 57 L.Ed.2d 667 (1978).

For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the district court's denial of the defendant's motion to suppress, the defendant's convictions and sentence, and the decision of the court of appeals.

II. Background Facts and Proceedings.

A. The Search Warrant. In August 2018, Detective Dane Bowermaster, a detective for the Marshalltown Police Department, received an anonymous tip that alleged Patrick Bracy was dealing methamphetamine. After about two months of investigation, on September 11, Detective Bowermaster presented a sworn search warrant application to a Marshall County magistrate. The application sought to search Bracy's residence and vehicles for evidence of drug dealing. The following is a summary of the facts as presented in that application.

On May 23, Bracy was cited for driving under suspension while operating a white 2001 Mazda Tribute not registered in his name. One week later, the vehicle was re-registered to Bracy's father, Donald.

During the second week of August, a confidential criminal defendant informant told Detective Bowermaster that Bracy was "a large level meth dealer." This informant took Detective Bowermaster to the 600 block of West Linn Street and pointed out "a possible house where [Bracy] lived." The informant reported that Bracy was living with his father. Detective Bowermaster reviewed police records that confirmed Bracy's address was 614 West Linn Street. He also went to the house and saw the white Mazda in the driveway.

Bracy is thirty years old. A check of Bracy's criminal history revealed that he had accumulated three convictions in the past four years: (1) possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver on August 18, 2014; (2) carrying weapons on October 13, 2015; and (3) possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) on January 13, 2017.

During the third week of August, a second confidential criminal defendant informant met with Detective Bowermaster. The informant claimed Bracy was "a meth dealer moving anywhere from ounce to pound level quantities." This informant also stated that Bracy lived in his father's house at 614 West Linn Street.

On August 30, "[Bracy] was involved in an incident which he fled on foot from. The investigating officers found the white 2001 Mazda Tribute, ... registered to Donald Bracy, parked outside the address where the incident occurred and believed [Bracy] drove it there."

On September 4, Bracy was arrested and jailed on an unrelated outstanding warrant. At the time of the arrest, Bracy was with Maria Vargas Cervantes in a red Ford F-150 registered to Bracy's father. Bracy stated that he was not employed.

During the second week of September, the police received two tips from concerned citizens. The first concerned citizen said that Bracy "was a meth dealer and [they] knew [Bracy] was in possession of

971 N.W.2d 566

large quantities of meth (multiple ounces) a few days before [Bracy]’s arrest on 9/4/18." The second concerned citizen reported that they "heard that [Bracy] had left pound quantities of meth behind" after his arrest.

On September 10, which was the day before the warrant application, Bracy made two phone calls from jail that were monitored by law enforcement. Detective Bowermaster recounted the phone calls in his application as follows:

10) On 9/10/18 at approximately 1110 hrs, I listened to a phone call from ["Pat"] Bracy at the jail to a person who I believe is Donald Bracy at 641-691-2640. During this phone call Pat said "don't let nothing happen to my safe man. There is a lot of money in that safe. That's where everything is."

11) On 9/10/18 at approximately 2130 hrs, Pat placed a call to 641-931-6560 and speaks to a female who he refers to as Maria. A check of the Marshall County Records shows that 641-931-6560 belongs to Maria Vargas-Cervantes as of September of 2018. The female tells Pat "do you know how much shit I have gone through to get your debt paid off?" Pat then says "it's like I told him, all that shit is right there from my dad[’]s house."

Detective Bowermaster's application added, "I know from experience that people often refer to meth as ‘shit.’ "

The magistrate granted the application for a search warrant. Marshalltown police executed the search warrant that same day. Bracy's father and Cervantes were present. The father told police that his son had a safe in the house but he wasn't sure where it was and only his son had access to it. The safe turned out to be in the laundry room. It contained identification cards for Bracy, SD cards, a thumb drive, cellphones, a silver spoon digital scale with residue, psilocybin mushrooms in a plastic baggie, a pill bottle, marijuana in a clear container, a drug cutting agent, and three gallon-size baggies with methamphetamine. Elsewhere in the house and the garage police found more cellphones, more methamphetamine, more marijuana, other controlled substances, and more drug paraphernalia. Altogether, the Marshalltown police seized over 235 grams of methamphetamine at the residence.

B. District Court Proceedings. On September 27, the State filed a trial information charging Bracy with various crimes. Count I alleged possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (methamphetamine) as a second or subsequent offense in violation of Iowa Code sections 124.401(1)(b )(7) (2018) and 124.411, a class "B" felony. Counts II, III, IV, and V alleged possession of a controlled substance (psilocybin, marijuana, amphetamine, and alprazolam, respectively) as a third offense in violation of section 124.401(5), all class "D" felonies. Count VI alleged failure to affix an Iowa drug tax stamp in violation of sections 453B.3 and 453B.12, a class "D" felony. Count VII alleged the prohibited act of keeping a drug house in violation of section 124.402(1)(e ), an aggravated misdemeanor. Count VIII alleged unlawful possession of a prescription drug in violation of section 155A.21, a serious misdemeanor. Count IX sought the habitual offender sentencing enhancement under section 902.8.

On March 13, 2019, Bracy filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained from the search of his residence. In his motion, Bracy claimed that the search warrant was invalid because the application did not establish the credibility of the informants or their information, did not "establish a nexus to the place to be searched," and relied on stale information.

971 N.W.2d 567

The district court denied the motion to suppress on April 30. The court noted in its order that Detective Bowermaster had independently corroborated information provided by the criminal defendant informants: the address of Donald's house and the fact that Bracy lived there. Further, it noted Bracy's history of controlled substance violations, the informants’ allegations of meth dealing, and Bracy's phone calls from jail. The court stated,

The Court FINDS that this information, along with the other information provided in the warrant application, when

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5 cases
  • State v. Davis
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • March 18, 2022
  • State v. Sallis
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • October 28, 2022
    ...Staleness arguments often arise in the warrant context, where probable cause is required. See, e.g. , 981 N.W.2d 345 State v. Bracy , 971 N.W.2d 563, 566–67 (Iowa 2022) (applying probable cause standard to issue warrant). We have said that "[w]hether information is stale depends on the circ......
  • State v. Wenzel
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • December 7, 2022
    ...supreme court has continued to use the same analysis for the review of search warrants as our federal counterparts. See State v. Bracy, 971 N.W.2d 563, 568-70 (Iowa 2022) (refusing to dissect a "warrant, examining it bit-by-bit" and throw out parts that do not establish probable cause on th......
  • State v. Sallis
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • October 28, 2022
    ...several months old. Staleness arguments often arise in the warrant context, where probable cause is required. See, e.g., State v. Bracy, 971 N.W.2d 563, 566-67 (Iowa 2022) (applying probable cause standard to issue warrant). We have said that "[w]hether information is stale depends on the c......
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