State v. Hauge, 20-1568

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtCHRISTENSEN, Chief Justice.
Citation973 N.W.2d 453
Parties STATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Brent Alan HAUGE, Appellant.
Docket Number20-1568
Decision Date22 April 2022

973 N.W.2d 453

STATE of Iowa, Appellee,
v.
Brent Alan HAUGE, Appellant.

No. 20-1568

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Submitted October 8, 2021
Filed April 22, 2022


Martha J. Lucey, State Appellate Defender, and Ashley C. Stewart (argued), Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Thomas E. Bakke (argued), Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

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

CHRISTENSEN, Chief Justice.

Late one summer night, three friends went for a ride in a two-door vehicle and headed out on the highway to look for adventure in whatever came their way. Little did they know that adventure for the three friends—a speeding driver, a back-seat passenger with an outstanding arrest warrant, and a front-seat passenger—would result in the arrest of both passengers when law enforcement officers stopped their two-door vehicle for speeding around 10:30 p.m. along Highway 75. One officer talked to the driver and the other officer went to the passenger side to talk to the front- and back-seat passengers. Instead of acknowledging the officer shining his flashlight into the passenger-side window right next to him, the front passenger stared straight ahead "like a statue" and then proceeded to use the light from the officer's flashlight to retrieve a lottery ticket from the door holder and

973 N.W.2d 456

examine it. The front passenger initially resisted giving the officer his identification, but both passengers eventually provided that information, which led the officers to discover the back-seat passenger had a warrant for her arrest relating to a conviction for domestic abuse assault with a weapon.

To safely effectuate the arrest of the back-seat passenger, the officers asked the driver and front passenger to exit the two-door vehicle so the backseat passenger could exit. Once the front passenger exited the vehicle, one of the officers asked him if he had any weapons on him, to which the passenger responded he did not, and then the officer asked him if he could "check [him] for weapons real quick." The passenger responded, "Yup," and the officer's pat-down revealed a methamphetamine pipe and a baggie containing methamphetamine, leading to the passenger's criminal charge of possession of methamphetamine, second offense, in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(5) (2019), an aggravated misdemeanor.

The passenger moved to suppress all evidence obtained after the exit order, arguing law enforcement acted unreasonably under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution by ordering him out of the vehicle. He also claimed his consent to the pat-down was not voluntary under article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution because the officer did not inform him that he could decline the search. The district court denied the motion to suppress and later convicted the passenger. We affirm the district court judgment because the officer's order for the passenger to exit the vehicle was necessary to facilitate the lawful arrest of the back-seat passenger. Further, consistent with federal precedent and the vast majority of states, we hold there is no requirement under the Iowa Constitution that subjects of a search must be informed of their right to decline the search in order for their consent to be voluntary. We affirm the district court's conclusion that the passenger's consent was voluntary based on the totality of the circumstances.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Around 10:30 p.m. on June 14, 2019, Brent Hauge was a front-seat passenger in a two-door vehicle when Officer Colin Scherle of the Merrill Police Department stopped the vehicle for speeding along Highway 75 in Plymouth County, Iowa. Deputy Kyle Petersen of the Plymouth County Sheriff's Department was driving in the area and stopped to assist Officer Scherle with the traffic stop. Officer Scherle's dash camera captured the stop, though it is difficult to hear most of the officers’ conversation with the vehicle's occupants. As Officer Scherle approached the driver's side to talk to the driver, Deputy Petersen approached the passenger's side. Deputy Petersen used his flashlight to see all of the occupants and observed Hauge in the front passenger seat and a female in the back seat. Hauge did not initially acknowledge Deputy Petersen's presence, staring straight ahead "like a statue" instead and then reaching into the passenger door holder to pull out what appeared to be a lottery ticket. Hauge held the lottery ticket up, using the light from Deputy Petersen's flashlight to view it, then placed it back in the door holder. After returning the lottery ticket to the door holder, Hauge began to stare straight down at the floor and continued to avoid eye contact with Deputy Petersen.

Deputy Petersen asked the passengers for their identification information, and Hauge responded by asking if he was being detained. Deputy Petersen explained

973 N.W.2d 457

he was not being detained, and Hauge provided Deputy Petersen with his identification card. Deputy Petersen also retrieved the back-seat passenger's information and then worked with Officer Scherle to check the license and warrant status of all three occupants. Upon discovering the back-seat passenger had a warrant for her arrest due to an overdue mittimus relating to a conviction for domestic abuse assault with a weapon, the officers decided to ask the occupants to exit the two-door vehicle so they could safely arrest the back-seat passenger.

When Deputy Petersen ordered Hauge to exit the vehicle, Hauge did not immediately exit and asked if he was being detained. Deputy Petersen informed Hauge that he was being detained and again asked Hauge to exit the vehicle. Hauge exited the vehicle and Deputy Petersen asked Hauge if he had any weapons, to which Hauge indicated that he did not. Deputy Petersen subsequently asked Hauge if it was okay to "check [him] for weapons real quick." Hauge swiftly responded, "Yup," and set the soda he was holding down so Deputy Petersen could perform the pat-down.

During the pat-down, Deputy Petersen felt an object "bulging out of [Hauge's] pocket," which he believed was a methamphetamine pipe based on the object's "size and length" and his training and experience. When Deputy Petersen went to retrieve the object from Hauge's pocket, he discovered a methamphetamine pipe and what was later confirmed to be a baggie containing methamphetamine. The State charged Hauge with possession of methamphetamine, second offense, in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(5), an aggravated misdemeanor.

Hauge moved to suppress all evidence obtained during the search and seizure, arguing law enforcement obtained it illegally in violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution. Hauge argued that the officers lacked reasonable suspicion to order him out of the vehicle or to believe Hauge was armed or dangerous to justify the pat-down and that Hauge's consent to the pat-down was not voluntary. During the hearing, Deputy Petersen testified that he initially became suspicious of Hauge when Hauge did not make any attempt to acknowledge Deputy Petersen and focused instead on a lottery ticket after Deputy Petersen approached the vehicle. Deputy Petersen explained, "Through my training, experience, and knowledge I've noticed that individuals that don't want to make eye contact, don't want to engage in any conversation, things of that nature, maybe more nervous around people, typically could potentially have criminal activity afoot." Deputy Petersen noted that it struck him as "very odd" that Hauge retrieved the lottery ticket from the door holder and used Deputy Petersen's flashlight to view the ticket, reasoning, "It mean[t] to me that he recognized my presence at the stop but didn't, once again, want to make contact with me or eye contact or anything of that nature, which, once again, raised red flags."

Deputy Petersen discussed various reasons for ordering Hauge out of the vehicle, including the nature of the back-seat passenger's conviction for domestic abuse with a weapon, Hauge's furtive movements of reaching into the door holder out of Deputy Petersen's eyesight multiple times, his choice not to acknowledge Deputy Petersen's presence, and his resistance to provide his identification. He expressed similar concerns when testifying about why he believed Hauge had weapons on him. Officer Scherle also testified about the safety concerns that led to the exit order. He

973 N.W.2d 458

acknowledged that the back-seat passenger could have exited the driver's side of the two-door vehicle but believed that it was safer to exit through the passenger side door where Hauge was seated. The video shows that the car was pulled over on the shoulder of a busy highway (U.S. 75) just slightly off the roadway.1

The district court denied Hauge's motion to suppress the evidence of the methamphetamine pipe and methamphetamine. Although the district court concluded Deputy Petersen did not have reason to believe Hauge was armed to...

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1 practice notes
  • State v. Wuol, 21-0951
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • June 29, 2022
    ...by the United State Supreme Court for addressing a search and seizure challenge under the Iowa Constitution."). [8] State v. Hauge, 973 N.W.2d 453, 458 (Iowa 2022). [9] Hauge, 973 N.W.2d at 458. [10] Hauge, 973 N.W.2d at 458. [11] Tyler, 830 N.W.2d at 292. [12] State v. McIver, 858 N.W.2d 6......
1 cases
  • State v. Wuol, 21-0951
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Iowa
    • June 29, 2022
    ...by the United State Supreme Court for addressing a search and seizure challenge under the Iowa Constitution."). [8] State v. Hauge, 973 N.W.2d 453, 458 (Iowa 2022). [9] Hauge, 973 N.W.2d at 458. [10] Hauge, 973 N.W.2d at 458. [11] Tyler, 830 N.W.2d at 292. [12] State v. McIver, 858 N.W.2d 6......

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