review from the Iowa Court of Appeals.
from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Bradley
J. Harris, Judge.
State of Iowa seeks further review of a court of appeals
decision on discretionary review reversing the district
court's denial of Deantay Williams's motion to
Goldensoph, Cedar Rapids, and James M. Metcalf, Waterloo, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, Tyler J. Buller, Kevin Cmelik,
and Alexandra Link (until withdrawal), Assistant Attorneys
General, and Brian J. Williams and Tom Ferguson (until
withdrawal), County Attorneys, and Linda M. Fangman (until
withdrawal), Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.
R. Ostergren, Muscatine, for amicus curiae, Iowa County
case, we consider whether the speedy indictment rule requires
the dismissal of a trial information against a defendant
filed more than forty-five days after the defendant was taken
into custody, interrogated, and released without the filing
of a criminal complaint. The district court held the rule did
not require the charges to be dismissed. The court of
appeals, relying on case precedent, reversed the district
court. On further review, we vacate the court of appeals and
affirm the district court. We conclude the speedy indictment
rule is properly interpreted to commence upon arrest only
when the arrest is completed by making an initial appearance.
Factual Background and Proceedings.
case comes before us on further review. The court of appeals,
on discretionary review of the district court's denial of
the defendant's motion to dismiss, reversed the district
court and dismissed the charges against Deantay Williams,
Taevon Washington, and Cordarrel Smith. On this further
review, we focus solely on whether the defendants' rights
were violated by the failure to bring formal charges against
these defendants within forty-five days of their arrest. This
case is submitted and decided together with State v.
Washington, ___ N.W.2d ___ (Iowa 2017), and State v.
Smith, ___ N.W.2d ___ (Iowa 2017), which arise out of
the same facts.
approximately 5:30 a.m. on June 10, 2012, the Waterloo Police
Department responded to a call reporting a sexual assault.
Officers met with L.M., a minor. L.M. told the officers she
had been repeatedly sexually assaulted at a nearby house.
L.M. told the officers her friend, J.K., also a minor, was
assaulted and was likely still inside the house. Officers
went to the house and set up surveillance. They considered
the house a "gang hang out, " possibly with weapons
inside. An officer took L.M. to a hospital for examination.
approximately 7:15 a.m., Deantay Williams, age seventeen,
exited the house. An officer stopped Williams, placed
handcuffs on him, and conducted a pat-down search. The
officer found a marijuana pipe in a pocket. The officer told
Williams he was being detained, placed him in the back of a
squad car, and drove him back to the house.
time later, numerous officers entered the front door of the
house with weapons drawn. They found seven occupants in the
living room and bedrooms, including Taevon Washington and
Cordarrel Smith, as well as two other males and three
females. Officers also entered the basement and found J.K
sitting on a mattress, crying. An officer promptly took her
to a hospital. The police took the other occupants of the
house into custody and transported them to the Waterloo
Washington, and Smith were separated, read their
Miranda rights, and questioned by officers. Williams
and Washington admitted they had sexual intercourse with L.M.
and J.K, but stated it was consensual. Smith denied any
sexual contact with L.M. or J.K. A fourth male admitted to
sexual contact with J.K., confirmed Washington and Williams
had sexual contact with J.K., and confirmed Williams had
sexual contact with L.M. Police asked each male to consent to
buccal and penile swabs. Williams and Smith consented.
Washington refused, and police obtained a search warrant to
perform the swabs. The police then released each person from
custody. L.M. and J.K. were discharged from the hospital
later that day after being examined and completing sexual
assault testing. No criminal complaints were filed.
October 21, 2013, police obtained arrest warrants for
Williams, Washington, Smith, and the fourth male and charged
them with sexual abuse in the second degree. Police arrested
Smith and the fourth male on October 24, Williams on October
28, and Washington on October 29. After each person was taken
into custody, they were taken before a magistrate to make an
November 1, 2013, now 510 days after the initial events, a
Black Hawk County attorney filed a trial information accusing
Williams, Washington, Smith, and the fourth male with sexual
abuse in the second degree under Iowa Code section 709.3(3)
(2011). The fourth male pled guilty.
Williams, Washington, and Smith filed a motion to dismiss for
violation of their speedy indictment rights. The district
court held a hearing and denied the motions. The district
court drew a distinction between an arrest under the Fourth
and Fourteenth Amendments and an arrest under our speedy
indictment rule. Williams, Washington, and Smith filed for
discretionary review. In the meantime, the State filed
amended charges against Williams, Washington, and Smith. We
granted the requests for discretionary review, stayed the
proceedings before the district court, and transferred the
cases to the court of appeals. Williams moved to dismiss the
amended charges. This motion was denied, and he applied for
discretionary review. We granted the application and
consolidated his appeals. The court of appeals reversed the
district court decisions, found Williams's rights were
violated under the speedy indictment rule, and remanded the
case for dismissal of the November 1, 2013 trial information
and the amended charges. The court of appeals relied on case
precedent interpreting the speedy indictment rule to find the
time to file an indictment commenced on June 10, 2012, when
Williams reasonably believed he had been arrested. We granted
begin by considering our devotion to stare decisis. We do so
because our existing caselaw can be applied to quickly
resolve this case. See State v. Wing, 791 N.W.2d
243, 249 (Iowa 2010). Yet, this caselaw is being challenged
as incorrect. Accordingly, we must consider the claim.
See State v. Johnson, 257 Iowa 1052, 1056, 135
N.W.2d 518, 521 (Iowa 1965) ("[H]igh courts have not
only the right but the duty to change a past decision if it
is erroneous . . . ."). We adhere to our past cases as
precedence, but we overturn the precedent if found to be
clearly erroneous. See McElroy v. State, 703 N.W.2d
385, 394-95 (Iowa 2005). We identified the reasons for this
hesitance sixty years ago, stating, "Legal authority
must be respected; not because it is venerable with age, but
because it is important that courts, and lawyers and their
clients, may know what the law is and order their affairs
accordingly." Stuart v. Pilgrim, 247 Iowa 709,
714, 74 N.W.2d 212, 216 (1956). However, "[s]tare
decisis 'should not be invoked to maintain a clearly
erroneous result.' " State v. Liddell, 672
N.W.2d 805, 813 (Iowa 2003) (quoting Miller v. Westfield
Ins., 606 N.W.2d 301, 306 (Iowa 2000)). The State
asserts dismissal of the charges here is such a result,
arguing that our line of cases interpreting the speedy
indictment rule is inconsistent with legislative
intent. Thus, we proceed to consider
if compelling reasons exist to overturn our prior
Standard of Review.
review interpretations of the speedy indictment rule for
errors at law. See State v. Penn-Kennedy, 862 N.W.2d
384, 386 (Iowa 2015). "We are bound by the findings of
fact of the district court if they are supported by
substantial evidence." Id. (quoting
Wing, 791 N.W.2d at 246).
case follows a growing line of cases beginning in 1980 that
has addressed the dismissal of criminal charges after an
arrest for failing to comply with Iowa's speedy
indictment rule. See, e.g., id. at 389-91;
Wing, 791 N.W.2d at 248-51; State v.
Dennison, 571 N.W.2d 492, 494-95 (Iowa 1997); State
v. Schmitt, 290 N.W.2d 24, 26-7 (Iowa 1980). This rule
has its roots in the more comprehensive right to speedy trial
guaranteed under the United States and Iowa Constitutions.
U.S. Const. amend. VI; Iowa Const. art. I, § 10; see
State v. Gebhart, 257 Iowa 843, 847, 134 N.W.2d 906, 908
(1965), overruled on other grounds by State v.
Johnson, 217 N.W.2d 609, 612 (Iowa 1974), and State
v. Gorham, 206 N.W.2d 908, 913 (Iowa 1973). It has been
part of the criminal procedure of this state since 1851.
See Iowa Code § 3248 (1851). As a part of the
broader right to a speedy trial in all criminal cases, the
rule specifically addresses the time frame in which formal
charges must be brought against an accused and requires the
case be dismissed for noncompliance. See Iowa R.
Crim. P. 2.33(2)(a).
1851 to 1978, the statutory window of time to file an
indictment under Iowa law commenced from the time the
defendant was "held to answer." See Iowa
Code § 3248 (1851); id. § 795.1 (1975).
The rule provided, "When a person is held to answer for
a public offense, if an indictment be not found against him
within thirty days, the court must order the prosecution to
be dismissed, unless good cause to the contrary be
shown." Id. § 795.1 (1975).
caselaw that inevitably develops around any rule or statute
declared "held to answer" was a separate event from
an "arrest." See State v. Mays, 204 N.W.2d
862, 866-67 (Iowa 1973). We consistently determined the
legislature intended the phrase "held to answer" to
refer to that stage in the court process following an arrest
when a magistrate makes a determination that there is
probable cause the offense was committed and the accused
committed the offense, or the time the defendant elected to
waive this preliminary hearing. See id. In other
words, the speedy indictment time period was tied to the
fundamental probable-cause determination required under our
law for the state to prosecute a person arrested and accused
of a crime. See State v. Morningstar, 207 N.W.2d
772, 774 (Iowa 1973) ("After preliminary examination
showing sufficient reason to commit the accused, or on waiver
by the accused, the magistrate orders that the accused be
'held to answer.' " (quoting Iowa Code §
761.18 (1973))). Without probable cause, no criminal
prosecution in Iowa can take place. See Iowa R.
Crim. P. 2.2(4)(e). Instead, the court must dismiss
the complaint. Id. Without probable cause, the
defendant is discharged and is no longer "held to
the speedy trial rule in Iowa operated in two stages. If an
indictment was not found against the defendant within thirty
days after the defendant was "held to answer, " the
prosecution was required to be dismissed, absent good cause
to the contrary or waiver. Iowa Code § 795.1 (1975). The
speedy trial rule next required that trial be held sixty days
after indictment, absent good cause. Id. §
795.2. Together, the rules implemented the constitutional
speedy trial protection by defining the inherent
"indefiniteness in the meaning of the term."
Pines v. Dist. Ct., 233 Iowa 1284, 1290-91, 10
N.W.2d 574, 578 (1943), overruled on other grounds by
Gorham, 206 N.W.2d at 913; see also State v.
Satterfield, 257 Iowa 1193, 1195-96, 136 N.W.2d 257, 258
(1965) (noting the rules "represent protection for one
who is charged by a preliminary information, that he must be
indicted promptly; and for one who is indicted, that he be
given a speedy trial"). Over time, the rules were
modified to extend the time frames, and an additional rule
was enacted to require the case be dismissed if not tried
within one year after the original arraignment, absent good
cause. See Iowa R. Crim. P.
additional events occurred that substantially shaped the
speedy trial landscape. First, the preliminary examination
process to determine the existence of probable cause in a
criminal proceeding began to fall into relative obscurity.
See Charles A. Pulaski, Preliminary Examinations
in Iowa: The Constitutional Considerations, 60 Iowa L.
Rev. 462, 469-70 (1975) ("[T]he short term benefits to
be derived from bypassing the preliminary examination have
prompted a majority of Iowa county attorneys to employ the
true information procedure in most cases. . . . [M]ost
contemporary trial courts appear to welcome the efficiency .
. . ."). If a defendant did not waive the preliminary
hearing, the prosecutors would routinely file a trial
information to avoid the necessity of the hearing. See
id.; see also State v. Clark, 258 Iowa 254,
257, 138 N.W.2d 120, 122 (1965) ("As to the complaint
that no preliminary hearing was provided, none was necessary.
A county attorney's information had been filed. . . . The
procedure does not contemplate a preliminary hearing.").
The endorsement by a judge on the trial information
established a finding of probable cause, obviating the need
for a hearing. See State v. Shank, 296 N.W.2d 791,
792 (Iowa 1980). Thus, while the preliminary examination
process still existed as part of the criminal process, it was
early 1970s, a second event emerged in Iowa to impact the
development of the speedy indictment rule. By this time,
pretrial delay in criminal cases had been identified as a
growing problem across the nation, and states were beginning
to respond with various reform measures. See Anthony
Partridge, Legislative History of Title I of the Speedy
Trial Act of 1974 11 (1980) (identifying twin goals of
the Speedy Trial Act: "clarifying the rights of
defendants" and "protecting society's interest
in bringing criminals to justice promptly"); Standards
Relating to Speedy Trial 1 (Am. Bar Ass'n Tentative Draft
1967) ("Congestion in the trial courts of this country .
. . is currently one of the major problems of judicial
administration."). This concern reached Iowa and was in
part responsible for a comprehensive review and major
overhaul of the Iowa Criminal Code in 1976. Part of the
overhaul included the speedy indictment rule. Effective in
1978, the legislature changed the triggering language of the
rule from "held to answer" to "arrest."
See 1976 Iowa Acts ch. 1245, ch. 2, § 1301
(rule 27(2)(a)) (now codified as amended at Iowa R.
Crim. P. 2.33(2)(a)). The amended provision
When a person is arrested for the commission of a public
offense and an indictment is not found against him or her
within forty-five days, the court must order the prosecution
to be dismissed, unless good cause to the contrary is ...