State v. Predka, No. 95-1045

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtLAVORATO
Citation555 N.W.2d 202
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Peter PREDKA, Appellant.
Decision Date24 July 1996
Docket NumberNo. 95-1045

Page 202

555 N.W.2d 202
STATE of Iowa, Appellee,
v.
Peter PREDKA, Appellant.
No. 95-1045.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
July 24, 1996.
As Amended on Denial of Rehearing Nov. 8, 1996.
Reconsideration of Order onRehearing Denied Nov. 20, 1996.

Page 203

Dean Stowers of the Rosenberg Law Firm, Des Moines, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Mary Tabor, Assistant Attorney General, John P. Sarcone, County Attorney, and Jamie Bowers, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Considered by HARRIS, P.J., and LARSON, LAVORATO, NEUMAN, and TERNUS, JJ.

LAVORATO, Justice.

Peter Predka appeals from judgments of conviction and sentence for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and failure to possess a drug tax stamp. See Iowa Code §§ 124.401(1)(c)(5), 453B.3, 453B.7 (1995). He raises several constitutional issues, complains about the district court's refusal to submit a jury instruction he

Page 204

proposed, and insists the court should have admitted evidence that it was impossible for him to comply with our drug tax stamp law.

Because we conclude none of Predka's arguments have merit, we affirm.

I. Background Facts.

Predka is a Utah resident. On July 16, 1994, he was driving his 1988 Lincoln Town Car with out-of-state plates through Des Moines on Interstate 80. At the time, Craig Brooks, a deputy of the Polk County sheriff's office, stopped him for speeding and not wearing a seat belt. In searching the trunk of Predka's car, Brooks found and seized about 140 pounds of high-grade marijuana and $2147 in cash. The marijuana has an estimated street value of $280,000.

II. Background Proceedings.

Immediately following the seizure of the marijuana, Predka was arrested and charged with possession with intent to deliver and failure to have a drug tax stamp. The State also served Predka with a notice that it was seeking forfeiture of his car and the cash Brooks found.

On August 11 the State filed a two-count trial information regarding the two charges. On September 30 Predka moved to suppress the evidence seized during the search on the grounds that the search and seizure violated the Fourth Amendment to the Federal Constitution. He also moved to dismiss the drug tax stamp charge on the grounds the charge violated the Commerce Clause of the Federal Constitution.

On October 18, following a hearing, the district court--Judge Rodney Ryan--entered judgment forfeiting Predka's car and the $2147 in cash.

On October 20 Predka moved to dismiss the criminal prosecution under the Federal Double Jeopardy Clause. He argued that continuation of the criminal prosecution after the forfeiture judgment placed him in double jeopardy.

Several months after Predka filed the motion to suppress and the two motions to dismiss, the district court--Judge Glenn E. Pille--denied all of them. Later, in a trial before Judge Joel D. Novak, a jury found Predka guilty on both counts. The court sentenced Predka to imprisonment for a period not more than (1) ten years on the possession with intent to deliver charge and (2) five years on the failure to possess a drug tax stamp charge. The court later reconsidered Predka's sentence and placed him on probation.

Predka appeals from the judgments of conviction and sentence.

III. Scope of Review.

We review constitutional issues de novo, under the totality of the circumstances. State v. Cunningham, 463 N.W.2d 887, 889 (Iowa App.1990).

We generally review admissibility of evidence issues for abuse of discretion. We will reverse a district court's determination regarding admissibility of evidence only when we find a clear abuse of discretion. State v. Roth, 403 N.W.2d 762, 765 (Iowa 1987). We review jury instructions to determine whether they correctly state the law and are supported by substantial evidence. Grefe & Sidney v. Watters, 525 N.W.2d 821, 824 (Iowa 1994). Substantial evidence is such evidence as would convince a rational trier of fact of what is sought to be proven. State v. Padavich, 536 N.W.2d 743, 751 (Iowa 1995).

IV. The Motion to Suppress.

Predka maintains Brooks stopped him without reasonable grounds. In the alternative Predka argues that even if Brooks had reasonable grounds to stop him, Brooks did not have grounds to search his car. Specifically, Predka asserts Brooks had neither probable cause nor consent to search. Predka concludes the district court should have suppressed all the evidence seized as a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.

The Fourth Amendment to the Federal Constitution provides that "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons ... against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrant shall issue, but upon probable cause...." U.S.

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Const. amend. IV. Evidence obtained in violation of this provision is inadmissible, no matter how relevant or probative the evidence may be. State v. Schrier, 283 N.W.2d 338, 342 (Iowa 1979).

A. The stop. When the police stop a car and temporarily detain an individual, the temporary detention is a "seizure" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. This is true even though the detention is only for a brief period of time and for a limited purpose. Whren v. United States, --- U.S. ----, ----, 116 S.Ct. 1769, 1772, 135 L.Ed.2d 89, 95 (1996). Therefore "[a]n automobile stop is ... subject to the constitutional imperative that it not be 'unreasonable' under the circumstances." Id. at ---, 116 S.Ct. at 1772, 135 L.Ed.2d at 95. Generally, "the decision to stop an automobile is reasonable where the police have probable cause to believe that a traffic violation has occurred." Id. at ---, 116 S.Ct. at 1772, 135 L.Ed.2d at 95.

For Fourth Amendment purposes, the constitutional reasonableness of traffic stops does not depend on the actual motivation of the individual officers involved. Id. at ---, 116 S.Ct. at 1774, 135 L.Ed.2d at 97. In Whren, the Court rejected the argument that the Fourth Amendment test for traffic stops should be whether a police officer, acting reasonably, would have made the stop for the reason given. Id. at ---, 116 S.Ct. at 1775, 135 L.Ed.2d at 98. Instead, the Court made it clear that traffic stops are "governed by the usual rule that probable cause to believe the law has been broken 'outbalances' private interest in avoiding police contact." Id. at ----, 116 S.Ct. at 1777, 135 L.Ed.2d at 101.

In Whren, plainclothes policemen were patrolling a high drug area in an unmarked car. They saw a truck waiting at an intersection stop sign for an unusually long time. The truck then turned suddenly, without signaling, and sped off at an unreasonable speed. The officers stopped the truck, assertedly to warn the driver about traffic violations. Upon approaching the truck, one officer saw plastic bags of crack cocaine in one of the defendant's hands. The officers arrested the driver and the passenger and seized the drugs. The defendants argued that (1) the stop had not been justified by either a reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe the defendants were engaged in illegal drug-dealing activity, and (2) the officer's traffic violation ground for approaching the truck was pretextual. The Supreme Court held the officers had probable cause because of the traffic violations. The Court decided it made no difference that the officer's traffic violation ground for approaching the truck was pretextual. Id. at ---, 116 S.Ct. at 1774, 135 L.Ed.2d at 97.

The Court made it clear that the Constitution prohibits selective enforcement of the law based on considerations such as race. However, as the Court pointed out, "the Constitutional basis for objecting to intentionally discriminatory application of laws is the Equal Protection Clause, not the Fourth Amendment." Id. at ---, 116 S.Ct. at 1774, 135 L.Ed.2d at 98.

Recently, we had occasion to revisit probable cause to make an arrest. See State v. Bumpus, 459 N.W.2d 619 (Iowa 1990). We defined probable cause to make an arrest this way:

Probable cause is not determined by observation of and reliance on any particular factor. Probable cause to make an arrest turns upon the circumstances of each case. The facts must give rise to something more than a mere suspicion, but they need not be so strong as to convince officers involved in the arrest of a suspect's guilt. Probable cause exists if the totality of the circumstances as viewed by a reasonable and prudent person would lead that person to believe that a crime has been or is being committed and that the arrestee committed or is committing it.

Id. at 624 (citations omitted).

Predka contends Brooks offered several reasons why he stopped him, none of which gave the officer grounds to make the stop. He maintains the stop was only a pretext for intercepting drugs and all evidence seized after the stop should have been suppressed.

Brooks testified that he pulled Predka over for two legitimate traffic violations: Predka was speeding and he was not wearing his seat belt. See Iowa Code §§ 321.285, 321.445

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(1993). On this point Brooks testified as follows:

Q. How was it that you happened to come in contact with Peter Predka? What happened? A. I was running stationary radar.

Q. What's that mean? Let me stop you right there. A. Standstill. The car was parked.

Q. Your car was? A. Yes. It was parked like at a 45-degree angle, mile marker 147 on I-80.

Q. What equipment were you using? A. It was a radar unit. I think it was a laser, the Pro Laser, but it could have been a regular radar. I was using a radar that day. Both the hand-held radar--the Pro Laser and the radar are hand-held.

....

Q. With regard to Mr. Predka, what did you see? A. After I--when he drove by me at first?

Q. Tell the court what happened. A. Basically what happened, I clocked him approximately five miles over the speed limit. He was 70 in a 65. He was approximately 200 yards away, 250. I then looked at the radar, looked at him. I could see he didn't have a seat belt...

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71 practice notes
  • Jones v. Wilder-Tomlinson, No. C 06-4060-MWB.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa
    • September 4, 2008
    ...of a traffic stop, the court does not look to the officer's personal motivations for making the stop, id. (citing State v. Predka, 555 N.W.2d 202, 205 (Iowa 1996)), but instead "must look at the facts available to the officer at the time of the stop." Id. at 62 (emphasis in origin......
  • State v. Brown, No. 17-0367
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 28, 2019
    ...whether law enforcement violated a defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights by making a pretextual traffic stop. See State v. Predka , 555 N.W.2d 202, 205 (Iowa 1996) ; see also State v. Cline , 617 N.W.2d 277, 280–81 (Iowa 2000) (en banc), abrogated on other grounds by State v. Turner , 630 N.W......
  • State v. Cline, No. 99-0412.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 7, 2000
    ...such as those present here "does not depend on the actual motivation of the individual officers involved." State v. Predka, 555 N.W.2d 202, 205 (Iowa 1996); accord Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 812, 116 S.Ct. 1769, 1774, 135 L.Ed.2d 89, 97 (1996) ("Not only have we ne......
  • State v. Naujoks, No. 00-1149.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 15, 2001
    ...of a warrantless search is not determined by the officers' subjective beliefs. See Cline, 617 N.W.2d at 281 (citing State v. Predka, 555 N.W.2d 202, 205 (Iowa 1996)). Rather, the reasonableness of the officers' search is determined on an objective standard. See Cline, 617 N.W.2d at 280-82 (......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
71 cases
  • Jones v. Wilder-Tomlinson, No. C 06-4060-MWB.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Iowa
    • September 4, 2008
    ...of a traffic stop, the court does not look to the officer's personal motivations for making the stop, id. (citing State v. Predka, 555 N.W.2d 202, 205 (Iowa 1996)), but instead "must look at the facts available to the officer at the time of the stop." Id. at 62 (emphasis in origin......
  • State v. Brown, No. 17-0367
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 28, 2019
    ...whether law enforcement violated a defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights by making a pretextual traffic stop. See State v. Predka , 555 N.W.2d 202, 205 (Iowa 1996) ; see also State v. Cline , 617 N.W.2d 277, 280–81 (Iowa 2000) (en banc), abrogated on other grounds by State v. Turner , 630 N.W......
  • State v. Cline, No. 99-0412.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 7, 2000
    ...such as those present here "does not depend on the actual motivation of the individual officers involved." State v. Predka, 555 N.W.2d 202, 205 (Iowa 1996); accord Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806, 812, 116 S.Ct. 1769, 1774, 135 L.Ed.2d 89, 97 (1996) ("Not only have we ne......
  • State v. Naujoks, No. 00-1149.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • November 15, 2001
    ...of a warrantless search is not determined by the officers' subjective beliefs. See Cline, 617 N.W.2d at 281 (citing State v. Predka, 555 N.W.2d 202, 205 (Iowa 1996)). Rather, the reasonableness of the officers' search is determined on an objective standard. See Cline, 617 N.W.2d at 280-82 (......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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