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State v. Hanrahan

Court of Appeal of Iowa

August 7, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
STEPHEN JOSEPH HANRAHAN, Defendant-Appellant.

Consolidated appeal from the Iowa District Court for Poweshiek County, Randy S. DeGeest, District Associate Judge (motion to suppress), and Lucy J. Gamon (trial and judgment entry), Judge, in SRIN013399; Lucy J. Gamon (motion to suppress) and Robert D. Fahey Jr. (trial and judgment entry), Judges, in SPLA001962.

A defendant appeals his conviction and sentence for possession of marijuana and an order forfeiting property.

Nicholas Sarcone and Dean Stowers of Stowers Law Firm, West Des Moines, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Thomas H. Miller, Assistant Attorney General, and Rebecca Petig, County Attorney, for appellee.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and Bower, JJ.

VAITHESWARAN, J.

We must decide whether the district court properly denied a motion to suppress evidence obtained during the search of a vehicle.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings

An Iowa State trooper who was part of a criminal interdiction program stopped Stephen Hanrahan on Interstate 80 for driving seventy-four miles-per-hour in a seventy mile-per-hour traffic zone. The trooper approached Hanrahan and told him he "was just going to give him a warning for it." He instructed Hanrahan to sit in his squad car while he prepared the warning ticket.

In the course of completing the paperwork, the trooper conducted a "motorist interview, " asking where Hanrahan began his journey, where he was going, and his plans on arrival at his destination. The trooper testified he "[a]bsolutely" used the opportunity to conduct a separate investigation. On issuing the warning ticket, the trooper ended the traffic stop, and Hanrahan exited the squad car.

Momentarily, the trooper got out of his vehicle and asked Hanrahan whether he had drugs or large amounts of money in his car. Hanrahan answered "[n]o." The trooper asked if he could search Hanrahan's vehicle. Again, Hanrahan answered "[n]o." Hanrahan was slightly more equivocal when asked if he would wait for a drug-sniffing dog; this time he responded, "[n]o, not really." But, when the trooper said he wanted to search Hanrahan's vehicle and said they could have a dog "come and run around" his vehicle, Hanrahan asked if the trooper needed a warrant and forcefully responded, "No, you can't search my vehicle. I think—no I think that's wrong."

The trooper did not take no for an answer. He again asked Hanrahan if he would be willing to wait for a dog. Hanrahan first answered, "Not really, but unless you want me to" and then responded he would "rather not." The trooper conceded Hanrahan did not give him permission to search the vehicle and did not say he was willing to wait for a drug dog. In his words, Hanrahan "absolutely" did not consent to stay until the dog arrived.[1] At that point, the trooper stated he would detain Hanrahan until a dog came.

The dog made a "positive" drug sniff. A subsequent search of the vehicle uncovered marijuana and a large amount of cash.

The State charged Hanrahan with possession of marijuana and filed a separate complaint seeking forfeiture of the cash. Hanrahan filed identical motions to suppress in both actions, alleging in part that "[t]he search of the vehicle was conducted without reasonable suspicion or probable cause." Following a hearing, the district court denied the motion in the criminal proceeding. Later, the ...


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