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United States v. Harken

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Central Division

September 18, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
MARK RANDALL HARKEN, Defendant.

ORDER

LINDA R. READE, Chief District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

The matter before the court is Defendant Mark Randall Harken's Objections (docket no. 38) to United States Chief Magistrate Judge Jon S. Scoles's Report and Recommendation (docket no. 35), which recommends that the court deny Defendant's "Motion to Suppress" ("Motion") (docket no. 27).

II. RELEVANT PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On May 21, 2014, a grand jury returned an Indictment (docket no. 2) charging Defendant with knowingly possessing firearms and ammunition after having been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year and while being an unlawful user of a controlled substance in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 922(g)(3). The Indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation. On July 16, 2014, Defendant filed the Motion. On July 23, 2014, the government filed a Resistance (docket no. 31). On July 29, 2014, Judge Scoles held a hearing on the Motion. See July 29, 2014 Minute Entry (docket no. 32). Defendant was represented by his attorney, Michael Lahammer. Assistant United States Attorney Anthony Morfitt represented the government. On August 1, 2014, Judge Scoles issued his Report and Recommendation, which recommends that the court deny the Motion. On August 14, 2014, Defendant filed his Objections. The Report and Recommendation and the Objections are fully submitted and ready for decision.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

When a party files a timely objection to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, a "judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Fed. R. Crim. P. 59(b)(3) ("The district judge must consider de novo any objection to the magistrate judge's recommendation."); United States v. Lothridge, 324 F.3d 599, 600 (8th Cir. 2003) (noting that a district judge must "undertake[] a de novo review of the disputed portions of a magistrate judge's report and recommendations"). "A judge of the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Fed. R. Crim. P. 59(b)(3) ("The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommendation, receive further evidence, or resubmit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions."). It is reversible error for a district court to fail to engage in a de novo review of a magistrate judge's report when such review is required. Lothridge, 324 F.3d at 600. Accordingly, the court reviews the disputed portions of the Report and Recommendation de novo.

IV. RELEVANT FACTUAL BACKGROUND [1]

On April 11, 2014, Scott Schrage, the Chief of Police in Parkersburg, Iowa, sent Officer Cody Vry of the Aplington, Iowa Police Department a text message which stated that Matt Harken-who Officer Vry believed to be Defendant's cousin-wanted to speak with a police officer. Harken met with Officer Vry and stated that he was involved in an altercation with Defendant. Harken told Officer Vry that he saw what appeared to be the butt of a shotgun in Defendant's vehicle (a black Ford F-150 truck) and that Defendant threatened to kill Harken. Harken further stated that he saw Defendant leaving Aplington and driving toward Parkersburg at around 5:00 p.m. Chief Schrage advised Officer Vry that Defendant was a felon and could not lawfully possess firearms.

At around 10:40 p.m. that evening, Officer Vry was on the east side of Aplington when he saw Defendant's black Ford F-150 truck coming westbound into Aplington on Highway 57. Officer Vry was familiar with the vehicle Defendant drove, having observed Defendant driving it through town frequently. Officer Vry stated that he noticed three separate violations of Iowa law: (1) one of the lights illuminating the rear license plate was dislodged and was exhibiting a white light toward the rear in violation of Iowa Code section 321.388; (2) dirt covered the rear license plate, rendering it illegible in violation of Iowa Code section 321.38; and (3) a ball hitch on the truck obscured the rear license plate in violation of Iowa Code section 321.38.

After the stop and a conversation between Defendant and Officer Vry, Officer Vry told Defendant that he had information that there was a weapon inside the truck. Defendant became upset. Multiple physical altercations, vehicle chases and standoffs ensued.

V. ANALYSIS

Defendant objects to Judge Scoles's factual finding "that dirt and dust covered the license plate." Brief in Support of Objections (docket no. 38-1) at 1 (internal quotation marks omitted). Defendant also objects to Judge Scoles's legal conclusions that "probable cause for the traffic stop ...


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