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United States v. Harry

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division

October 23, 2017



          C.J. Williams Chief United States Magistrate Judge


         The matter before the Court is defendant's Supplemental Motion to Suppress evidence and statements allegedly obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. (Doc. 53). The grand jury charged defendant in a one-count indictment with Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), and 851. (Doc. 2). The charge arose from evidence found during a traffic stop of the vehicle defendant was driving on February 10, 2017. (Doc. 20).

         On July 24, 2017, defendant filed his initial motion to suppress, arguing that the officer who conducted the search, Dubuque County Deputy Daniel Kearney, did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle. (Doc. 20-1). Defendant did not challenge any events that occurred subsequent to the actual stop of the vehicle, including the validity of the canine search at issue here. (Doc. 34). I filed a report and recommendation to deny defendant's motion on August 8, 2017. (Id.). I concluded that Deputy Kearney had probable cause to believe that defendant was speeding and therefore, had authority to stop the vehicle. (Id.). In addition, I determined that the stop was justified because, based on a tip from a confidential informant, Deputy Kearney had reasonable suspicion to believe criminal activity was afoot. (Id.).

         Defendant filed a timely objection to the report and recommendation on September 27, 2017. (Doc. 49). That same day, defendant moved to resubmit his motion to suppress and requested that the Court allow him to plead an additional substantive violation of the Fourth Amendment. (Doc. 48). Defendant argued that Deputy Kearney violated the Supreme Court's holding in Rodriguez v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 1609 (2015), by delaying the traffic stop to conduct a canine search. (Id.).

         The United States resisted defendant's motion to resubmit (Doc. 50) and his amended motion to suppress. (Doc. 52). The United States argued that “(1) Rodriguez is inapposite because officers had reasonable suspicion of ongoing drug activity; and (2) even under Rodriguez, the time between the stop and the beginning of the dog sniff did not constitute an impermissible extension of the stop.” (Doc. 52-1).

         On October 13, 2017, defendant filed a supplemental motion to suppress (Doc. 53) and brief in support of his motion. (Doc. 53-1). A hearing on defendant's motion was held that same day. For the reasons that follow, I respectfully recommend that the Court deny defendant's supplemental motion to suppress.


         The Court adopts the factual findings set forth in its Report and Recommendation to Deny Defendant's Motion to Suppress. (Doc. 34). In addition, the Court finds the following facts are relevant to its current analysis.

         On February 10, 2017, at approximately 12:50 p.m., Deputy Kearney stopped the vehicle driven by defendant in Dubuque County, Iowa. Deputy Kearney is the Dubuque County Sheriff canine officer and at the time of the stop, he had a canine in his patrol car with him. At 12:51 p.m., Deputy Kearney spoke with the driver about the speeding violation, obtained defendant's driver's license in relation to that mission, and returned to the patrol car. At 12:52 p.m., Deputy Kearney discussed conducting a canine search with Investigator Adam Williams, who was also present at the scene to advance the drug investigation. At approximately 12:52:54 p.m., Deputy Kearney removed the canine from the patrol car and had the canine conduct a sniff search of the vehicle's exterior. The canine hit on the vehicle at approximately 12:53:17 p.m. Deputy Kearney placed the dog back in the patrol car at approximately 12:53:55 p.m.

         At 12:55 p.m., Deputy Kearney instructed defendant to exit the vehicle, patted defendant down, and placed him in the patrol car. At 12:58 p.m., Deputy Kearney continued to process the traffic violation, advising defendant that he would issue him a warning rather than a traffic citation. Deputy Kearney then proceeded to write defendant a warning ticket while Investigator Williams physically searched the bed of the pickup truck. Investigator Williams located methamphetamine inside a PCV pipe that was lying in the bed of the pickup truck at 1:03 p.m.

         At 1:16 p.m., Investigator Williams read defendant his Miranda rights and began to question him. Defendant initially denied knowledge of the drugs, but later made several incriminating statements.

         III. ANALYSIS

         As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that it continues to recommend the adoption of its prior determination that Deputy Kearney had sufficient reasonable suspicion of ongoing drug activity to stop defendant. If Deputy Kearney had reasonable suspicion, the seizure of defendant while Deputy Kearney conducted a canine sniff search was constitutional. Rodriguez, 135 S.Ct. at 1615. However, because defendant's objection to the Court's prior report and recommendation remains pending, the Court will analyze defendant's supplemental suppression argument as if the officers did not have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. The issue is therefore, whether, under Rodriguez, Deputy Kearney's use of the canine to search the exterior of the vehicle during a traffic stop for speeding, violates the Fourth Amendment of the United States ...

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