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State v. Campbell

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 2, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DEBBIE LIN CAMPBELL, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, William A. Price (motion to suppress) and Gregory D. Brandt (bench trial), District Associate Judges.

         A defendant appeals her conviction claiming the district court should have granted her motion to suppress evidence. REVERSED AND REMANDED.

          Alexander D. Smith of Parrish Kruidenier Dunn Boles Gribble Gentry Brown & Bergmann L.L.P., Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Thomas J. Ogden, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

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

          VOGEL, Presiding Judge.

         Debbie Lin Campbell appeals following her conviction for possession of a controlled substance, second offense, following a bench trial on the stipulated minutes of testimony. See Iowa Code § 124.401(5) (2016). She claims the district court should have granted her motion to suppress evidence found during the search of her purse. We conclude the deputies illegally seized Campbell's purse when she was ordered to place her purse back in the car after she had exited, and as a result, the evidence found in her purse should be suppressed. We reverse and remand for a new trial.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         In the late night hours of January 10, 2016, Campbell was a passenger in a car being driven by Roger Nourie. Polk County Deputy Nihad Hodovic stopped Nourie's car for an expired registration tag. Nourie accompanied Deputy Hodovic back to the deputy's vehicle, but Campbell remained in the passenger's seat of Nourie's car. Deputy Hodovic discovered Nourie's driver's license was revoked[1]and he did not have valid insurance on the car. Based on this information, Deputy Hodovic decided to impound the car and issue citations to Nourie.

         Deputy Jason Sadler arrived on scene to assist, and Deputy Hodovic asked him to remove Campbell from the car and place her, with Nourie, in the back of Deputy Hodovic's vehicle because Deputy Hodovic had agreed to give them a ride home. Deputy Sadler asked Campbell to step out of the vehicle, and Campbell complied, carrying her purse in her hand. Deputy Sadler then instructed Campbell to place her purse back in the car; Campbell did as she was directed. Deputy Sadler then had Campbell open her jacket and turn around before placing her in the back seat of Deputy Hodovic's vehicle.

         The deputies then conducted an inventory search of Nourie's car, discovering a small amount of marijuana in a pill container, bearing Nourie's name. Nourie admitted the marijuana was his. The deputies then searched Campbell's purse, which was still in the car, locating prescription medication. Campbell admitted she did not have a valid prescription for the pills and could not recall the name of the medication. The deputies determined the pills were alprazolam, and Campbell was arrested and charged with the illegal possession of the medication.

         Campbell filed a motion to suppress the evidence discovered in the search of her purse, claiming it violated her federal and state constitutional rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Specifically, she claimed the deputy illegally directed her to place her purse back in the car when she exited, which then made the purse a container in the car that could be searched after marijuana was found in the car. The State resisted the motion, claiming that the location of the purse at the time the marijuana was discovered did not make a difference as the discovery of the marijuana gave the deputies probable cause to search all containers located in the vehicle at the time the vehicle was stopped. The State claimed the purse could have been searched after marijuana was discovered in the car because it was inside the car when the car was seized by the deputies.[2]

         At the hearing on the motion to suppress, the court heard the testimony of Deputy Sadler and observed a portion of the dash cam video of the stop from Deputy Hodovic's vehicle. Deputy Sadler testified he instructed Campbell to place her purse back into the car after she exited the car with her purse in hand. Deputy also Sadler testified, "I never let anybody take a purse with them or any items due to it's part of the inventory search. It needs to be inventoried to make sure nothing of value as well as any weapons, officer's safety. We don't know what she has in the purse with her." Deputy Sadler went on to explain:

[D]ue to close contact, the nature in dealing with the person or even having the patrol car, we don't know what's on the person or in the purse. So therefore, we want to verify there [are] no weapons, nothing to prevent or jeopardize our safety, or to their safety, whether it may be something they may have.

         The district court denied Campbell's motion on the record, stating:

The court finds that on or about January 10, 2016, a vehicle being operated by Mr. Roger Nourie was stopped in the 3900 block of East 29th Street by [Deputy] Hodovic, that [Deputy] Hodovic determined that Mr. Nourie was a revoked driver, that the registration to the vehicle was expired, and Mr. Nourie did not produce current proof of insurance. A decision was made to impound the vehicle.
Mr. Nourie was already out of the vehicle. And [Deputy] Sadler, who had come to the place of the stop, was asked to have Ms. Campbell come out of the vehicle that had been operated by Mr. ...

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