United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division
LINDA R. READE, Chief District Judge.
The matter before the court is Defendant Adam-Cade Michael Gilson's Objections (docket no. 37) to United States Chief Magistrate Judge Jon S. Scoles's Report and Recommendation, which recommends that the court deny Defendant's "Motion to Suppress" ("Motion") (docket no. 21).
II. RELEVANT PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On July 23, 2014, a grand jury returned an Indictment (docket no. 2) charging Defendant with knowingly possessing firearms and ammunition after having been convicted of crimes punishable by terms of imprisonment exceeding one year in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). The Indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation. On August 8, 2014, Defendant filed the Motion. On August 18, 2014, the government filed a Resistance (docket no. 24). On August 19, 2014, Judge Scoles held a hearing on the Motion. See August 19, 2014 Minute Entry (docket no. 25). Defendant appeared in court with his attorney, Max Wolson. Special Assistant United States Attorney Lisa Williams represented the government. On August 20, 2014, Defendant filed a Reply (docket no. 30). On August 29, 2014, Judge Scoles issued his Report and Recommendation, which recommends that the court deny the Motion. On September 12, 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 
On May 2, 2014, Officer Nicholas Berry of the Waterloo, Iowa Police Department followed Defendant's vehicle as it traveled away from a convenience store. Officer Berry "observed that the license plate sat lower and partially blocked some of the letters for the county and then also almost three-quarters of the actual registration sticker." Transcript of Suppression Hearing ("Transcript") (docket no. 34) at 28. Officer Berry testified that he was unable to read the registration sticker, even at close range. Id. at 29. Officer Berry informed Tama County Deputy Sheriff Casey Schmidt that he would like the vehicle stopped because "the [license] plate was... obscured." Id. at 7. Deputy Sheriff Schmidt stated that he was unable to read the registration sticker. Id. at 8. Deputy Sheriff Schmidt pulled over the vehicle and obtained incriminating evidence.
Defendant objects to Judge Scoles's conclusion that Iowa Code section 321.38 provided officers with probable cause to pull over Defendant's vehicle.
A. Legal Standard
The Fourth Amendment prohibits "unreasonable searches and seizures." U.S. Const. amend. IV. "A traffic stop constitutes a seizure of [a] vehicle's occupants, including any passengers." United States v. Hollins , 685 F.3d 703, 705 (8th Cir. 2012) (quoting United States v. Sanchez , 572 F.3d 475, 478 (8th Cir. 2009))(internal quotation marks omitted). To be constitutional, "a traffic stop must be supported by reasonable suspicion or probable cause.'" Id. at 706 (quoting United States v. Houston , 548 F.3d 1151, 1153 (8th Cir. 2008)). An officer has probable cause to make a traffic stop when the officer "objectively has a reasonable basis for believing that the driver has breached a traffic law." United States v. Gordon , 741 F.3d 872, 876 (8th Cir. 2013) (quoting United States v. Coney , 456 F.3d 850, 856 (8th Cir. 2006)) (internal quotation marks omitted). Whether an officer has probable cause "is determined from the totality of the circumstances as set forth in the information available to the arresting officer at the time of the arrest.'" Houston , 548 F.3d at 1154 (quoting United States v. Adams , 346 F.3d 1165, 1169 (8th Cir. 2003)). Moreover, "an arresting officer's state of mind (except for the facts that he knows) is irrelevant to the existence of probable cause." Devenpeck v. Alford , 543 U.S. 146, 153 (2004). An ...