from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Carol L Coppola
(motion to suppress) and William A. Price (trial and
sentencing), District Associate Judges.
defendant appeals from her convictions and sentences for
driving while barred, as an habitual offender, and assault on
a peace officer. AFFIRMED.
Cathleen J. Siebrecht of Siebrecht Law Firm, Des Moines, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Timothy M. Hau, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., Potterfield, J., and Scott,
Moore appeals from her convictions and sentences for driving
while barred, as an habitual offender, and assault on a peace
officer. She claims the district court was wrong to deny her
motion to suppress because the stop of her vehicle was not
supported by probable cause, the trial and sentencing judge
should have recused himself, and there is insufficient
evidence to support her conviction for driving while barred.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
early morning hours of April 25, 2015, Urbandale Police
Officer Eric Wilcutt and other officers were working for the
Central Iowa Traffic Safety Task Force Unit. The unit was
"doing a saturation patrol" due to Drake Relays and
a large concert both taking place in the same area. At
approximately 1:15 a.m., Officer Wilcutt noticed a vehicle
that he believed was traveling at a higher rate than the
posted speed limit. He began to follow the vehicle and then
noticed the vehicle's license plate frame was partially
covering the county on the vehicle's license plate.
Officer Wilcutt initiated a traffic stop based on the
obstructed view of the license plate. When he made contact
with the driver, Moore, he learned she was barred from
driving. Moore had a temporary restricted license, but those
restrictions only allowed her to drive to work and back.
Moore admitted she was picking up intoxicated friends from
the concert. As a result, Officer Wilcutt arrested Moore; she
was charged with driving while barred, as an habitual
filed a motion to suppress, claiming the officer did not have
reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop her on the
morning in question. The matter proceeded to hearing in
hearing, Moore questioned why the officer did not have a
photograph of the license plate to show how the lettering was
obstructed. She also challenged whether the officer had
probable cause to stop when he was able to relay the
necessary information-the license plate's identifying
numbers and letters-to dispatch. The court, ruling from the
bench, denied Moore's motion to suppress. In doing so,
the court explicitly found Officer Wilcutt's testimony
regarding his reason for initiating the stop credible, noting
"He did, in fact, advise [Moore] at the time that that
was the reason that he stopped [her]."
underlying charge proceeded to a jury trial in March 2016. At
the time set for trial, Moore asked the judge to recuse
himself. She reported she had worked at a care center where
the judge's wife was a patient approximately eighteen
months before. Moore maintained she often spoke with the
wife, had brought meals in when the judge was with his wife,
and had contact with the judge through her employment
"more than ten times." When asked additional
questions, Moore stated, "I have met him before. You
know, I came in the room. I talked to you a couple times, but
I'm not saying-I have talked to you guys. Brought you all
food in there. Sat back and talked and I always had
conversations with your wife." The judge denied the
recusal motion, stating:
I have no-other than the fact that my wife was at [the
nursing home], I have no reason-and I certainly have no
reason to disbelieve Ms. Moore that our paths did cross
there. But I had no recollection of it before she raised it.
And the fact that she raised it, I have no recollection.
There was not-there were no issues with [the nursing home] or
the care my wife received. I don't know how many