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State v. Taylor

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 17, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
TIFFANI A. TAYLOR, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Sioux County, Robert J. Dull, District Associate Judge.

         Tiffani Taylor appeals her conviction for possession of methamphetamine contending the district court erred in denying her motion to suppress.

          Robert B. Brock II of Law Office of Robert B. Brock II, P.C., Le Mars, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Benjamin M. Parrott, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and McDonald, JJ.

          DOYLE, Judge.

         Tiffani Taylor appeals her conviction for possession of methamphetamine. She claims the district court erred in denying her motion to suppress. Upon our review, we conclude the district court properly denied the motion to suppress because the "plain view" exception applied to the warrantless search of Taylor's purse. Accordingly, we affirm Taylor's conviction and sentence.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         On August 15, 2015, Michelle Bellis and Tiffani Taylor visited an inmate at the Sioux County Jail. Both women provided identification as a part of the check-in procedure. A correctional officer determined neither had a valid license to drive. Since the women had arrived at the jail in a van driven by one of them, the officer notified Sioux County Deputy Sheriff Oostra of the situation. The deputy parked near the jail and laid in wait. When the women left the jail, the correctional officer observed Bellis driving the van and notified Deputy Oostra. The deputy stopped the van after it drove past his lair. After confirming that Bellis was driving without a valid license, the deputy had Bellis get out of the van, and she and the deputy headed toward the patrol car. The deputy asked if anyone else in the van had a valid license. Bellis said Taylor had a license and could drive. The deputy returned to the van, and from the still open driver's window, he asked Taylor, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, if she had a valid driver's license. According to Deputy Oostra's report attached to the minutes of testimony, the following transpired:

[Taylor] told me she did. I asked to see it and she reached for a purse located by her left foot that was [sitting] on the floor.
[Taylor] retrieved from that purse a smaller purse, it appeared as a small, mostly tan in color 3x5 inch makeup purse. She unzipped it and opened it. I could see into the purse and saw a card of some sort and a small blue baggie that appeared to have a white colored substance in it; possibly a controlled substance. [Taylor] quickly handed me an Iowa identification card and closed the purse zipping it shut. I told her this was only an identification card and not good for driving. I then confronted her with what I knew; she did not have a driver's license. [Taylor] acknowledges she did not have one.
I then asked about the small baggie I saw in the purse which she retrieved her identification card from. [Taylor] then opened the purse again and held it so I could not see in. I asked what was in the baggie. [Taylor] just held the purse bouncing it in her hand in what appeared to be an attempt to cover the baggie with the other contents of the small purse. I then told [Taylor] to hand me the purse. She did and I reached in and took out the small ¾ inch by 1 ½ inch blue baggie.

         The deputy then took the small makeup purse with him and had Taylor stay in the van while he finished writing the traffic citation for Bellis in the patrol car. He went back to the van, searched Taylor's large purse and the van's passenger compartment area near where Taylor was sitting. Asked what testing the white powder might reveal the powder to be, Taylor responded, "it may test for meth." Taylor was read her Miranda rights, taken to jail, and arrested.

         By trial information, the State charged Taylor with possession of methamphetamine, first offense, in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(5) (2015), a serious misdemeanor. Taylor filed a motion to suppress all evidence recovered by the State, contending the evidence was obtained in violation of her rights under the Fourth Amendment ...


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