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State v. Storm

Supreme Court of Iowa

June 30, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Appellee,
v.
CHRISTOPHER GEORGE STORM, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dallas County, Randy V. Hefner, Judge.

         Defendant appeals his conviction claiming automobile exception to search warrant requirement should be abandoned. DISTRICT COURT JUDGMENT AFFIRMED.

          Daniel J. Rothman of McEnroe, Gotsdiner, Brewer, Steinbach & Rothman, P.C., for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kevin Cmelik and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant Attorneys General, for appellee.

          WATERMAN, Justice.

         In this appeal, we must decide whether to abandon the automobile exception to the search warrant requirement under article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution. In State v. Gaskins, we did not reach that issue, but members of this court noted the rationale for the exception may be eroded by technological advances enabling police to obtain warrants from the scene of a traffic stop. 866 N.W.2d 1, 17 (Iowa 2015) (Cady, C.J., concurring specially). The defendant driver in today's case was lawfully stopped for a seat belt violation. The deputy smelled marijuana and searched the vehicle, discovering marijuana packaged for resale. The defendant was charged with possession with intent to deliver in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(1)(d) (2015). He filed a motion to suppress, claiming this warrantless search violated the Iowa Constitution because police can now obtain warrants electronically from the side of the road. The district court denied the motion after an evidentiary hearing that included testimony that it would have taken well over an hour to obtain a search warrant. The defendant was convicted, and we retained his appeal.

         On our review, we conclude, based on the evidence in the record, that this deputy was unable to obtain a warrant electronically from the scene of the traffic stop, and the procedures in place at that time required a warrant application to be presented in person to a judicial officer. For the reasons further explained below, we elect to retain the automobile exception, consistent with our precedent, federal caselaw, and the overwhelming majority of other states. We are guided by the decisions of other states that abandoned the automobile exception only to reinstate it. Their experience shows the easy-to-apply automobile exception is preferable to the alternative-a less predictable, case-by-case exigency determination resulting in prolonged roadside seizures awaiting a warrant, with attendant dangers and no net gain for civil liberties. We may revisit this issue at a future time when roadside electronic warrants have become more practical. Today, we affirm the district court's ruling denying the defendant's motion to suppress and defendant's conviction.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         On the afternoon of April 19, 2015, sheriff's deputy Clay Leonard was on patrol in Dallas County at the intersection of Highway 141 and Wendover. He saw a male driving a dark-colored Chevrolet pickup truck without wearing a seat belt. The deputy activated his emergency lights to stop the driver. He reported to dispatch the location of the traffic stop, about a twenty-five-minute drive from the Dallas County courthouse. He walked to the driver's side window and asked for the lone occupant's license and registration. As they talked, he noticed that the driver, Christopher Storm, "appeared to be nervous, hands shaking and quick labored breaths." Deputy Leonard "could smell the distinct odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle." He brought Storm back to the front seat of his patrol car for questioning. Storm made a call on his cell phone, and two of his acquaintances arrived. Storm initially denied smoking marijuana or having any in his truck, but after further discussion, he admitted to using marijuana previously and having a criminal record. Over Storm's objection, Deputy Leonard searched the truck. He found several packages of marijuana, a scale, a grinder, a pipe, an e-cigarette with residue, and pills in an unmarked bottle. These items were removed, and Storm was placed under arrest. One of Storm's acquaintances drove his truck away after the arrest.

         The marijuana found in Storm's truck totaled forty-seven grams. The fourteen pills in the unmarked bottle were amphetamine/ dextroamphetamine, with no prescription. Storm's cell phone had text messages showing he had been selling marijuana. The State charged Storm by trial information with possession with intent to deliver marijuana in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(1)(d); tax stamp violations under sections 453B.1, 453B.3, 453B.4, and 453B.12; and unlawful possession of a prescription drug in violation of section 155A.21.

         Storm filed a motion to suppress. He argued that a warrantless search of a vehicle based solely upon probable cause no longer comports with article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution because new technology enables officers to file warrant applications at the scene of the traffic stop. The State resisted, and the district court conducted an evidentiary hearing.

         Deputy Leonard and Lieutenant Adam Infante testified for the State. Deputy Leonard testified that it is a "routine occurrence" that he is the only law enforcement officer "dealing with multiple individuals or suspects." If he has to call for assistance, it could be thirty to forty minutes before another officer arrives. When he stopped Storm, Deputy Leonard had a personal cell phone, a department-issued flip phone, and an in-car computer. His internet connection was "slow" at that location. He lacked the equipment to remotely obtain a warrant.

         Deputy Leonard also testified about the time needed to write a search warrant application:

Q. How long, in your experience, has it taken you to author search warrants? A. By the time I get back to the police department or my office . . . to type it up, make phone calls, get ahold of a county attorney to look over it, review it-I also have to get assistance because I'm not, I don't do it all the time, so I either have a detective or somebody else that writes them up assist me.
And then, after making phone calls, getting ahold of them, sending the document back and forth maybe to fix, grammatically fix a couple things or something, then the judge signs it.
Most of the time I have to go to the judge's house if it's after hours. It's 5, 6 hours by the time I get everything done and be able to execute the warrant.

         He noted how having to write a warrant in the patrol car would change this process:

Well, typing up documents, trying to put everything into the document that's required by law, and trying to watch somebody or what's going on at the scene, or timewise, et cetera, is-I mean, it takes away from me being able to keep observation around me, keep me safe, et cetera.

         Lieutenant Infante, who estimated he had written "hundreds" of warrants, testified it would take him, in a "[b]are-bones case, " "about an hour." He outlined the complexity of the warrant process:

First thing you need to do in the search warrant is identify with specificity the item or property to be searched. In this case a vehicle make, model, VIN, license plate, color, location of the vehicle, that sort of thing.
Next step would be to determine the items that you're looking for in said vehicle. Which, once again, has to be fairly specific.
After that I would lay out my affidavit for why I believe there's probable cause to search the vehicle for the items that I'm looking for.
The next step would be to add an attachment B if there was any sort of outside information that I might have received from another law enforcement officer or informant of some sort.
In Dallas County the judges prefer that we assist them with filling out the endorsement, where in some other counties that's not the case. Then I would contact the county attorney to get their approval of the search warrant, to discuss any details or items that I might have left out. And then after I have had the county attorney's approval I would then begin the arduous task of tracking down a judge.

         He testified tracking down a judge can be difficult, whether it is "3 or 4 o'clock in the morning" or "3 o'clock in the afternoon" because they are often involved in other business such as hearings, appearances, or conferences.

         Lieutenant Infante acknowledged he takes a "cautious" approach to search warrants, explaining the importance of accuracy:

I've lost a search warrant in this very courtroom before for not being correct. You only have one opportunity to write a search warrant and get it signed by a judge. Once it's signed, sealed, that's it. You don't get an opportunity to go back and edit it or make corrections or change anything.

         If he had to apply for a search warrant from his squad car, "It would be hard for [him to] do a good job. It would be hard for [him] to be accurate with having to pay attention to [the driver] and also keep an eye on the property to be searched." He noted the challenge of multitasking while using the in-car computer:

There's a misconception that these in-car computers are, you know you're going to sit there and you're going to write all your reports on this in-car computer. That's not the case. These computers issue citations, warnings; they do some accidents. A scanner is involved in that. The entering on the computer is minimal.
We're not typing an affidavit on our in-car computer. We're going back to the office where we can sit down, face a computer, do it correctly.
These deputies are turned sideways; they're [not looking] out the side of the window to make sure nobody hits them; they're watching the guy in the back seat. The in-car computer is not what people think it is.

         Lieutenant Infante also testified there was no process for submitting warrants electronically to judges in Dallas County.

         Storm presented testimony from Bryan Barker, a criminal defense attorney and former police officer and prosecutor, who estimated he could fill out a warrant application in fifteen minutes. However, Barker qualified his testimony by stating he would be making extensive use of "boilerplate." He noted it likely would take another "15 to . . . 30 minutes" to get approval from a judge, assuming the warrant could be sent electronically and the judge was available, for a total of thirty to forty-five minutes.

         The district court denied Storm's motion to suppress, concluding that Iowa statutes and rules "expressly anticipate that [a] warrant application will be signed under oath in the actual physical presence of the judge or magistrate." The district court applied the automobile exception, stating, "Under these circumstances, mobility of the vehicle was more than a theoretical or presumed problem, " and "[a] very real possibility existed that the vehicle would be driven away from this location before a warrant could be obtained by any means." The district court made a factual finding that "Deputy Leonard did not have available to him at the time and place of this search the technology or training that would have allowed submission" of an electronic warrant.

         Storm was convicted of possession with intent to deliver at a bench trial on the minutes of testimony. He was given a suspended prison sentence of no more than five years and placed on two years of probation. He appealed, and we retained the appeal.

         II. Standard of Review.

         "When a defendant challenges a district court's denial of a motion to suppress based upon the deprivation of a state or federal constitutional right, our standard of review is de novo." State v. Brown, 890 N.W.2d 315, 321 (Iowa 2017). We look to the entire record and "make 'an independent evaluation of the totality of the circumstances.' " Id. (quoting In re Prop. Seized from Pardee, 872 N.W.2d 384, 390 (Iowa 2015)). "We give deference to the district court's fact findings due to its opportunity to assess the credibility of the witnesses, but we are not bound by those findings." Id. (quoting Pardee, 872 N.W.2d at 390).

         III. Analysis.

         Storm asks us to abandon the automobile exception, contending its rationale has been eroded by new technology allowing warrants to be obtained promptly from the scene of the traffic stop. On our de novo review, we find the evidentiary record belies Storm's factual premise. Like the district court, we find that Deputy Leonard lacked the capability to obtain a search warrant from the scene of the traffic stop and that it would have taken over an hour to get a warrant to search Storm's truck. Based on this evidentiary record and our survey of precedent nationwide, we retain the automobile exception and affirm the district court.

         A. The Automobile Exception's History and Rationales.

         "The Supreme Court has recognized a 'specifically established and well-delineated' exception to the warrant requirement for searches of automobiles and their contents." State v. Allensworth, 748 N.W.2d 789');">748 N.W.2d 789, 792 (Iowa 2008) (quoting California v. Acevedo, 500 U.S. 565, 580, 111 S.Ct. 1982, 1991 (1991)). "[T]his exception is applicable when probable cause and exigent circumstances exist at the time the car is stopped by police." State v. Holderness, 301 N.W.2d 733, 736 (Iowa 1981). The inherent mobility of motor vehicles satisfies the exigent-circumstances requirement. Id. at 737.

         The automobile exception rests on twin rationales: (1) the inherent mobility of the vehicle, and (2) the lower expectation of privacy in vehicles compared to homes and other structures. Allensworth, 748 N.W.2d at 793-94. There was no procedure in place in Dallas County in 2015 for Deputy Leonard to obtain a search warrant electronically from the scene of his traffic stop.[1] We decline to replace the easy-to-apply automobile exception with a case-by-case exigency determination that results in less predictable, inconsistent outcomes and prolonged seizures with roadside hazards and no net gain in liberty. Vehicles remain inherently mobile with reduced expectations of privacy, while rapid roadside warrants are not yet a realistic option. We conclude the twin rationales for the automobile exception remain valid.

         1. The inherent mobility of the automobile.

         The United States Supreme Court first recognized the automobile exception to the search-warrant requirement in Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, 45 S.Ct. 280 (1925). The Carroll Court addressed when police could search the vehicles of bootleggers suspected of transporting liquor during the Prohibition. Id. at 160, 45 S.Ct. at 287-88. After surveying federal law since the adoption of the Fourth Amendment, the Supreme Court observed,

[T]he guaranty of freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures by the Fourth Amendment has been construed, practically since the beginning of the government, as recognizing a necessary difference between the search of a store, dwelling house, or other structure in respect of which a proper official warrant readily may be obtained and a search of a ship, motor boat, wagon, or automobile for contraband goods, where it is not practicable to secure a warrant, because the vehicle can be quickly moved out of the locality or jurisdiction in which the warrant must be sought.

Id. at 153, 45 S.Ct. at 285. Given the inherent mobility of the automobile and the impracticability of securing a warrant, the Carroll Court held a warrantless search would be lawful if the officer had "reasonable or probable cause for believing that the automobile which he stops and seizes has contraband." Id. at 156, 45 S.Ct. at 286.

         Forty-five years later in Chambers v. Maroney, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the automobile exception for a vehicle impounded and searched at the police station following the driver's arrest. 399 U.S. 42, 48, 90 S.Ct. 1975, 1979 (1970). The Court reiterated its mobility rationale, stating,

[A] search warrant [is] unnecessary where there is probable cause to search an automobile stopped on the highway; the car is movable, the occupants are alerted, and the car's contents may never be found again if a warrant must be obtained.

Id. at 51, 90 S.Ct. at 1981. The Chambers Court confronted the same argument Storm raises today: that a vehicle should simply be seized until a magistrate authorizes a warrant. Id. The Court observed,

Arguably, because of the preference for a magistrate's judgment, only the immobilization of the car should be permitted until a search warrant is obtained; arguably, only the "lesser" intrusion is permissible until the magistrate authorizes the "greater." But which is the "greater" and which the "lesser" intrusion is itself a debatable question and the answer may depend on a variety of circumstances. For constitutional purposes, we see no difference between on the one hand seizing and holding a car before presenting the probable cause issue to a magistrate and on the other hand carrying out an immediate search without a warrant. Given probable cause to search, either course is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.

Id. at 51-52, 90 S.Ct. at 1981. Concluding the warrantless search was constitutional, the Court emphasized that "there is little to choose in terms of practical consequences between an immediate search without a warrant and the car's immobilization until a warrant is obtained." Id. at 52, 90 S.Ct. at 1981.

         The Supreme Court more recently reaffirmed that exigent circumstances apart from the mobility of the vehicle are not required to justify a warrantless search. In Maryland v. Dyson, police received a tip from a reliable confidential informant that a drug dealer would be returning to Maryland in a specifically identified red rental car. 527 U.S. 465, 465, 119 S.Ct. 2013, 2013 (1999) (per curiam). Officers stopped and searched the vehicle, finding twenty-three grams of crack cocaine. Id. at 466, 119 S.Ct. at 2013. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed the district court's denial of the defendant's motion to suppress, finding that although there was probable cause to conduct the search, there "was no exigency that prevented or even made it significantly difficult for the police to obtain a search warrant." Id. The Supreme Court reversed, noting that "under our established precedent, the 'automobile exception' has no separate exigency requirement." Id. at 466, 119 S.Ct. at 2014; see also Pennsylvania v. Labron, 518 U.S. 938, 940, 116 S.Ct. 2485, 2487 (1996) (per curiam) (using the automobile exception to justify a search based only on probable cause with no additional exigency).

         2. The lower expectation of privacy in automobiles.

         The United States Supreme Court has also justified the automobile exception based on the reduced expectation of privacy resulting from the "configuration, use and regulation of automobiles." Arkansas v. Sanders, 442 U.S. 753, 761, 99 S.Ct. 2586, 2591 (1979), abrogated on other grounds by Acevedo, 500 U.S. at 575, 111 S.Ct. at 1989. Indeed, "[o]ne has a lesser expectation of privacy in a motor vehicle because its function is transportation and it seldom serves as one's residence or as the repository of personal effects." Cardwell v. Lewis, 417 U.S. 583, 590, 94 S.Ct. 2464, 2469 (1974). Unlike a home or office, "[a] car has little capacity for escaping public scrutiny. It travels public thoroughfares where its occupants and its contents are in plain view." Id. Furthermore,

[b]ecause of the extensive regulation of motor vehicles and traffic, and also because of the frequency with which a vehicle can become disabled or involved in an accident on public highways, the extent of police-citizen contact involving automobiles will be substantially greater than police-citizen contact in a home or office.

Cady v. Dombrowski, 413 U.S. 433, 441, 93 S.Ct. 2523, 2528 (1973). As the Supreme Court explained,

In discharging their varied responsibilities for ensuring the public safety, law enforcement officials are necessarily brought into frequent contact with automobiles. Most of this contact is distinctly noncriminal in nature. Automobiles, unlike homes, are subjected to pervasive and continuing governmental regulation and controls, including periodic inspection and licensing requirements. As an everyday occurrence, police stop and examine vehicles when license plates or inspection stickers have expired, or if other violations, such as exhaust fumes or excessive noise, are noted, or if headlights or other safety equipment are not in proper working order.

South Dakota v. Opperman, 428 U.S. 364, 367-68, 96 S.Ct. 3092, 3096 (1976) (citation omitted). "In the interests of public safety . . . automobiles are frequently taken into police custody." Id. at 368, 96 S.Ct. at 3097 (citation omitted). Police may impound vehicles after accidents to permit "the uninterrupted flow of traffic." Id. Not so with a home or other structure.

         The state's interest in highway safety allows warrantless checkpoint stops without individualized reasonable suspicion. Mich. Dep't of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444, 455, 110 S.Ct. 2481, 2488 (1990). By contrast, the interest in safe neighborhoods cannot justify warrantless searches of homes or businesses on a city block. Rather, a search warrant is required to "effect an unconsented administrative entry into and inspection of private dwellings or commercial premises." Opperman, 428 U.S. at 367 n.2, 96 S.Ct. at 3096 n.2 (citing Camara v. Mun. Ct., 387 U.S. 523, 87 S.Ct. 1727 (1967)).

         B. Iowa's Adoption of the Automobile Exception Under Our State Constitution.

         The search and seizure provisions of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution[2] and article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution[3] are virtually identical. "We may construe the Iowa Constitution differently than its federal counterpart, despite the provisions containing nearly identical language and being structured generally with the same scope, import, and purpose." State v. Kooima, 833 N.W.2d 202, 206 (Iowa 2013). We adopted the automobile exception under article I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution in State v. Olsen, 293 N.W.2d 216, 220 (Iowa 1980). Previously, we had required exigency separate from the mobility of the vehicle to justify a warrantless search, but we clarified that we did so because "[a]t that time some doubt existed as to the scope of Chambers." Id. at 219; see also State v. Schlenker, 234 N.W.2d 142, 145 (Iowa 1975) (requiring separate showing of exigency). Federal cases subsequently clarified that "[t]he exigency requirement . . . is sufficiently established by the inherent mobility of the vehicle, the fact defendant was alerted, and the chance that the car's contents might not be found again if a warrant had to be then obtained." Olsen, 293 N.W.2d at 220. While acknowledging we were "still free to apply" our previous holdings under an independent approach to the Iowa Constitution, we were "persuaded that the state constitution should be given the same interpretation as the Federal." Id. at 219, 220.

         We have continued to follow the federal automobile exception for decades. See, e.g., Allensworth, 748 N.W.2d at 791 n.2 (rejecting an Iowa constitutional challenge to a warrantless vehicle search); State v. Maddox, 670 N.W.2d 168, 171 (Iowa 2003) (applying the automobile exception to uphold a warrantless search under the Federal and Iowa Constitutions because of a vehicle's "inherent mobility"); Holderness, 301 N.W.2d at 737 (rejecting federal and state constitutional challenges to a warrantless vehicle search conducted at the police station); see also State v. Vance, 790 N.W.2d 775, 791 (Iowa 2010) (Cady, J., dissenting) ("This [automobile] exception has been firmly planted in our Iowa jurisprudence for over twenty years."). We are not persuaded to chart a different course today. "Stare decisis alone dictates continued adherence to our precedent absent a compelling reason to change the law." Book v. Doublestar Dongfeng Tyre Co., 860 N.W.2d 576, 594 (Iowa 2015). Storm offers no compelling reason for overruling our precedent on the automobile exception.

         C. The Overwhelming Majority of State Courts Have Retained the Automobile Exception.

         1. All but five states have retained the automobile exception.

         An overwhelming majority of states continue to adhere to the automobile exception.[4] These include courts that have construed their state constitutions to allow greater protection than the Fourth Amendment. See Commonwealth v. Gary, 91 A.3d 102, 126 (Pa. 2014) ("[A] generally enhanced concern for individual privacy" does not "translate[] into a conferral of increased privacy protection in every context in which it is asserted under [the state constitution.]"); see also Stout v. State, 898 S.W.2d 457, 460 (Ark. 1995) ("Of course, we could hold that the Arkansas Constitution provides greater protection against unreasonable searches than does the Constitution of the United States, but we see no reason to do so."); People v. Smith, 447 N.E.2d 809, 813 (Ill. 1983) (noting "the Supreme Court's interpretation of the automobile exception . . . achieves a fair balance"); Commonwealth v. Motta, 676 N.E.2d 795, 800 (Mass. 1997) ("Indeed, while it is true that we have at times concluded that art. 14 provides more protection than the Fourth Amendment, we have also followed the Supreme Court in the area of the automobile exception."); State v. Lloyd, 312 P.3d 467, 474 (Nev. 2013) ("Although it is elementary that states may provide greater protections than required by the federal Constitution, it is at least as fundamental that such decisions should be carefully reasoned and grounded in a strong public policy." (quoting Thomas B. McAffee et al., The Automobile Exception in Nevada: A Critique of the Harnisch Cases, 8 Nev. L.J. 622, 648 (2008) [hereinafter McAffee])). We should not simply "reflexively find 'in favor of any new right or interpretation asserted' under [the state search and seizure provision]." Gary, 91 A.3d at 126 (quoting Commonwealth v. Russo, 934 A.2d 1199, 1210 (Pa. 2007)).

         In State v. Rocha, the Nebraska Supreme Court this year addressed the continuing validity of the automobile exception under its state constitution. 890 N.W.2d 178');">890 N.W.2d 178, 207 (Neb. 2017). Police found marijuana on Eric Rocha after he consented to a pat-down search during a roadway stop. Id. at 188. The officer arrested Rocha and searched his vehicle, finding methamphetamine, marijuana, two glass vials, a glass pipe, and two digital scales near the center console. Id. Rocha moved to suppress the evidence discovered during the warrantless search of the automobile. Id. at 190. Rocha argued additional exigent circumstances, beyond the vehicle's inherent mobility, were required for a warrantless search. Id. at 204. He asserted that when a defendant was incapable of physically moving the vehicle or destroying evidence, officers must obtain a warrant. Id. at 205. The Nebraska Supreme Court disagreed. Id. The Rocha court, after surveying federal and state decisions, concluded,

In light of the overwhelming weight of authorities, we hold that the requirement of ready mobility for the automobile exception is met whenever a vehicle that is not located on private property is capable or apparently capable of being driven on the roads or highways. This inquiry does not focus on the likelihood of the vehicle's being moved under the particular circumstances and is generally satisfied by the inherent mobility of all operational vehicles. It does not depend on whether the defendant has access to the vehicle at the time of the search or is in custody, nor on whether the vehicle has been impounded. The purpose of the ready mobility requirement is to distinguish vehicles on public property from fixed, permanent structures, in which there is a greater expectation of privacy.

Id. at 207. We reach the same conclusion.

         2. Five other states that had abandoned the automobile exception changed course and restored it.

         We can learn from the experiences of the five states previously requiring a separate showing of exigent circumstances that restored the automobile exception. See Lloyd, 312 P.3d at 474; State v. Witt, 126 A.3d 850, 853 (N.J. 2015); State v. Zwicke, 767 N.W.2d 869');">767 N.W.2d 869, 873 (N.D. 2009); Gomez v. State, 168 P.3d 1139, 1145 (Okla. Crim. App. 2007); State v. Werner, 615 A.2d 1010, 1014 (R.I. 1992). The Nevada Supreme Court reversed course after recognizing that its separate exigency requirement had produced "confusion, while doing little to enhance the protection of individual privacy interests." Lloyd, 312 P.3d at 473 (quoting McAffee, 8 Nev. L.J. at 624). By contrast, the automobile exception was "rooted in good policy that balances private interests with the collective good, even as it provides law enforcement with clear and unequivocal guidelines for doing their jobs." Id. at 474 (quoting McAffee, 8 Nev. L.J. at 648).

         Similarly, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island returned to the federal standard to restore clarity in the law. Zwicke, 767 N.W.2d at 873 ("[S]ince this Court decided Meadows, the United States Supreme Court has held that . . . there need not exist exigent circumstances . . . . [T]o the extent that Meadows can be read to require something more than mobility for exigent circumstances, we overrule that part of our decision in that case."); Gomez, 168 P.3d at 1145 ("Because we believe the United States Supreme Court's decisions . . . rest on sound principles, we are persuaded they should inform our construction of Article 2, § 30 . . . . To the extent that [earlier cases] hold to the contrary, they are overruled."); Werner, 615 A.2d at 1014 ("In light of the Supreme Court's clarification of the exigency issue, we conclude that it is preferable to adopt one clear-cut rule to govern automobile searches and, in turn, eliminate the conflicting interpretations of article I, section 6, of the Rhode Island Constitution and the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.").

         The New Jersey Supreme Court recently overruled its prior decisions that applied a "pure exigent-circumstances requirement to justify an automobile search." Witt, 126 A.3d at 853 (citing State v. Cooke, 751 A.2d 92, 97 (2000), abrogated by Witt, 126 A.3d at 853). The court had used a multifactor approach. Id. at 864 (listing exigent circumstances as "the time of day; the location of the stop; the nature of the neighborhood; the unfolding of the events establishing probable cause; the ratio of officers to suspects; the existence of confederates who know the location of the car and could remove it or its contents; whether the arrest was observed by passersby who could tamper with the car or its contents; whether it would be safe to leave the car unguarded and, if not, whether the delay that would be caused by obtaining a warrant would place the officers or the evidence at risk" (quoting State v. Pena-Flores, 965 A.2d 114, 128 (N.J. 2009), abrogated by Witt, 126 A.3d at 853)). The New Jersey Supreme Court had concluded that telephonic warrants would provide an "efficient and speedy" procedure "that will be available to [officers] on the scene; that will obviate the need for difficult exigency assessments; and that will guarantee our citizens the protections that the warrant requirement affords." Id. (quoting Pena-Flores, 965 A.3d at 132). Experience proved otherwise:

Experience and common sense persuade us that the exigent-circumstances test in Pena-Flores does not provide greater liberty or security to New Jersey's citizens and has placed on law enforcement unrealistic and impracticable burdens. First, the multi-factor exigency formula is too complex and difficult for a reasonable police officer to apply to fast-moving and evolving events that require prompt action. Thus, we cannot expect predictable and uniform police or judicial decision-making. Second, the securing of telephonic warrants results in unacceptably prolonged roadway stops. During the warrant-application process, the occupants of a vehicle and police officers are stranded on the side of busy highways for an extended period, increasing the risk of serious injury and even death by passing traffic. If the car is impounded, then the occupants' detention will be extended for an even longer period as a warrant is procured.

Id. at 853.

         Specifically, the New Jersey court noted in 2015 that the average time to issue a telephonic warrant was fifty-nine minutes. Id. at 869. Some troopers experienced delays of two hours.[5] Id. The Witt court recognized, "The hope that technology would reduce the perils of roadside stops has not been realized." Id. Prolonged encounters along the shoulder of the highway posed "unacceptable risk of serious bodily injury and death." Id. "News reports reveal the carnage caused by cars and trucks crashing into police officers and motorists positioned on the shoulders of our highways." Id. We decline to impose those risks on Iowa motorists and peace officers.

         The New Jersey Supreme Court noted another downside to requiring warrants for roadside searches of automobiles-the pressure put on ...


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