State v. King, No. 13–1061.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtCADY, Chief Justice.
Citation867 N.W.2d 106
Decision Date26 June 2015
Docket NumberNo. 13–1061.
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Donald Joseph KING, Appellant.

867 N.W.2d 106

STATE of Iowa, Appellee
v.
Donald Joseph KING, Appellant.

No. 13–1061.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

June 26, 2015.
Rehearing Denied Aug. 14, 2015.


867 N.W.2d 109

Rees Conrad Douglas, Sioux City, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Martha E. Trout, Assistant Attorney General, Patrick A. Jennings, County Attorney, and Mark A. Campbell, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Opinion

CADY, Chief Justice.

In this appeal, we consider the constitutionality of a warrantless search of the home of a parolee by a parole officer that uncovered evidence used to prosecute and convict the parolee of the crime of possession of a controlled substance as a habitual offender. We must determine whether the search was unconstitutional or was justified by the special needs of the State, based on a balancing of the governmental interests served by the search against the privacy interest of the parolee protected under article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution. On our review, we find the search by the parole officer did not violate article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution. We affirm the judgment and sentence of the district court.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Donald King was released on parole from a correctional institution in Iowa on June 28, 2012. He was serving a sentence of incarceration at the correctional institution after being convicted of the crimes of possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine), possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) with intent to deliver, and theft in the second degree. The parole officer assigned to supervise King while on parole was Emmanuel Scarmon. As a condition to his release, King was required to sign a “Parole Order and Agreement.” The agreement contained numerous terms, including a consent-to-search provision and an agreement to abstain from the use, purchase, and possession of any drug.

King moved into an apartment in Sioux City and found employment. In September and October 2012, however, he tested positive for methamphetamine. He was placed into an inpatient drug-treatment program and returned to his apartment upon completing the program on January 4, 2013. King was required to continue the drug-treatment program on an outpatient basis, and he was required to find employment. He was also required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet, which would allow his probation officer to track his movements.

On January 14, Scarmon met with King at the probation office. During the meeting, King complained about the outpatient treatment program and seemed to be losing his motivation to succeed at parole. He expressed the notion that it might be easier to return to prison. In the days following the meeting, the monitoring system signaled that King had not left his apartment for two days. King was required to attend drug treatment and to look for employment during this time. The monitoring system also signaled that the bracelet might have been subjected to tampering. Scarmon was concerned that King was on the verge of another relapse into drugs or might abscond from parole.

On January 17, Scarmon and another parole officer, Todd Hruska, made a home visit to check on King. When Scarmon and Hruska arrived at the apartment, King was present and allowed them inside. King lived alone. Scarmon checked the monitoring bracelet worn by King. It did not show any signs of tampering. Scarmon then administered a breath test to determine if King had been consuming alcoholic beverages. The test did not detect

867 N.W.2d 110

the presence of any alcohol. King explained that he had not left his apartment over the last few days because he had been sick.

Scarmon had learned from experience that he could not always trust parolees to provide honest answers to his questions. The search provision in the parole agreement was a means for him to help verify if the information provided to him by parolees was correct. He also utilized home searches to make sure parolees were generally living in an environment consistent with the goal of rehabilitation when questions and concerns would surface during the course of supervision. A search was an effective means to discover signs of inappropriate activity that could hamper the success sought by parole.

Scarmon decided he should check King's bedroom for signs of any activity detrimental to parole, including the presence of drugs or drug paraphernalia. He was aware of King's history of drug use, including intravenous use of drugs and drug use while on parole. After Scarmon informed King of his intention to search, King did not refuse, but instead led the parole officers to his basement bedroom. Scarmon promptly observed a sunglasses case located on the headboard of the bed. He opened the case and discovered two small bags of marijuana and rolling papers. Scarmon arrested King for violating his parole. Hruska placed a call to the police.

King was subsequently charged with one count of possession of marijuana, third offense, a class “D” felony, as a habitual offender. This charge was based on the marijuana found in his bedroom by Scarmon. King moved to suppress the marijuana as evidence in the prosecution. He claimed the search of his bedroom and sunglasses case violated article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution, and his consent to the search under the parole agreement did not constitute a waiver of his constitutional right. The State resisted the motion. It argued the search was valid either as a “special needs” search or as a “consent” search under the parole agreement. The district court overruled the motion, ultimately ruling that the search was supported under the special-needs doctrine.

At a bench trial, King was convicted of possession of a controlled substance, marijuana, third offense, as a habitual offender. The district court sentenced King to a period of incarceration not to exceed fifteen years. The sentence was suspended, and King was placed on probation for two years. King appealed the judgment and sentence based on the denial of his motion to suppress.

II. Standard of Review.

We review de novo claims based on the district court's failure to suppress evidence obtained in violation of the state constitution. State v. Kern, 831 N.W.2d 149, 164 (Iowa 2013).

III. Analysis.

Article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution expresses “[t]he right of the people to be secure ... against unreasonable seizures and searches,” and requires warrants to be particularized and issued only upon probable cause. Iowa Const. art. I, § 8 (emphasis added). The federal counterpart to Iowa's right is found in the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. U.S. Const. amend. IV (“The right of the people to be secure ... against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause....”). The text of both provisions applies its protection to all people, including people who may be detached totally from any suspicion of criminal behavior, although the right is most often applied in

867 N.W.2d 111

the law to people suspected of engaging in criminal behavior.1 See United States v. Verdugo–Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259, 265–66, 110 S.Ct. 1056, 1060–61, 108 L.Ed.2d 222, 232–33 (1990) (examining the meaning of “the people” in the context of Fourth Amendment protections); Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 351, 88 S.Ct. 507, 511, 19 L.Ed.2d 576, 582 (1967) (“[T]he Fourth Amendment protects people, not places.”). Overall, the right protects people against warrantless searches, with carefully crafted exceptions.

The declaration of the right in the context of its ownership by the people projects a powerful statement. It identifies the importance of the right to our founders and the prominence of the right in society. See Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 624–35, 6 S.Ct. 524, 529–35, 29 L.Ed. 746, 749–52 (1886) (describing in detail the development of the right and its importance to the founders), abrogated on other grounds by Warden v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294, 301–02, 87 S.Ct. 1642, 1647, 18 L.Ed.2d 782, 788–89 (1967). Yet, the thrust of the right does not speak in absolutes, but reason. See State v. Naujoks, 637 N.W.2d 101, 107 (Iowa 2001) (“The essential purpose of the Fourth Amendment ‘is to impose a standard of “reasonableness” upon the exercise of discretion by government officials ....’ ” (quoting State v. Loyd, 530 N.W.2d 708, 711 (Iowa 1995) )). This approach permits the reasonableness of searches to adapt over time to new challenges given to the people and government that were not contemplated at the time the provision was framed. It allows the right to take on a new shape over time in response to new understandings of those times when government is permitted to conduct a reasonable search, including the search of people or places for purposes primarily unrelated to the enforcement of criminal laws. See, e.g., New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325, 335–36, 105 S.Ct. 733, 739–40, 83 L.Ed.2d 720, 730–31 (1985) (examining the reasonableness of warrantless school searches). These future circumstances can both expand the types of warrantless searches permitted by the right, just as it could...

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14 practice notes
  • Doss v. State, 19-1285
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 25, 2021
    ...necessarily involves intrusion by government into the lives of parolees as they assimilate back into society." State v. King, 867 N.W.2d 106, 121 (Iowa 2015). Otherwise, "the goal and purpose of parole would be difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish." Id. at 122."Wh......
  • State v. Pettijohn, No. 14-0830
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 30, 2017
    ...their scope ordinarily arise in circumstances in which individuals are suspected of engaging in criminal behavior. State v. King , 867 N.W.2d 106, 110–11 (Iowa 2015). Warrantless searches and seizures are per se unreasonable unless one of several carefully drawn exceptions to the warrant re......
  • State v. Gaskins, No. 13–1915.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 30, 2015
    ...majority. All searches must be reasonable, and reasonableness must both justify the search and constrain its scope. See State v. King, 867 N.W.2d 106, 124 (Iowa 2015). Under the facts of this case, the justification for permitting a warrantless search incident to arrest does not apply to a ......
  • Enriquez v. Ludwick, 4:13–cv–00024–RWP
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Southern District of Iowa
    • April 16, 2018
    ...third parties like with Enriquez. Less than two months before the decision on Enriquez's postconviction appeal, in State v. King , 867 N.W.2d 106, 116, 126–27 (Iowa 2015), the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that a parolee could be subject to a warrantless search by his or her parole officer under......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • Doss v. State, 19-1285
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 25, 2021
    ..."[P]arole necessarily involves intrusion by government into the lives of parolees as they assimilate back into society." State v. King, 867 N.W.2d 106, 121 (Iowa 2015). Otherwise, "the goal and purpose of parole would be difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish." Id. at 122."When grantin......
  • State v. Pettijohn, No. 14-0830
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 30, 2017
    ...their scope ordinarily arise in circumstances in which individuals are suspected of engaging in criminal behavior. State v. King , 867 N.W.2d 106, 110–11 (Iowa 2015). Warrantless searches and seizures are per se unreasonable unless one of several carefully drawn exceptions to the warrant re......
  • State v. Gaskins, No. 13–1915.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 30, 2015
    ...majority. All searches must be reasonable, and reasonableness must both justify the search and constrain its scope. See State v. King, 867 N.W.2d 106, 124 (Iowa 2015). Under the facts of this case, the justification for permitting a warrantless search incident to arrest does not apply to a ......
  • Enriquez v. Ludwick, 4:13–cv–00024–RWP
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Southern District of Iowa
    • April 16, 2018
    ...third parties like with Enriquez. Less than two months before the decision on Enriquez's postconviction appeal, in State v. King , 867 N.W.2d 106, 116, 126–27 (Iowa 2015), the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that a parolee could be subject to a warrantless search by his or her parole officer under......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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