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United States v. Buchheim

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division

December 18, 2017



          C.J. Williams Chief United States Magistrate Judge.


         The matter before the Court is defendant's Motion to Suppress Evidence. (Doc. 16). 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). (Doc. 2). The charge arose from evidence found during a traffic stop of defendant's car on March 16, 2017. Defendant argues that the officer unduly prolonged the traffic stop for the purposes of conducting a canine search of defendant's car, in violation of the Fourth Amendment, citing the Supreme Court's holding in Rodriguez v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 1609 (2015). The Honorable Linda R. Reade, United States District Court Judge, referred the motion to me for a Report and Recommendation. On Friday, December 15, 2017, I held an evidentiary hearing at which Cedar Rapids Police Officers Mitchell Magill and Chris Carton testified. The Court also admitted without objection government's Exhibit 1 (a video from Officer Carton's car) and defendant's Exhibits A (the speeding citation) and B (a call for service report).

         For the reasons that follow, I respectfully recommend that the Court deny defendant's motion to suppress.


         On the night of March 16, 2017, Cedar Rapids Police Investigator Mitchell Magill was on patrol in an unmarked police car as part of a Mobile Assistance Team, which was tasked with assisting in any crime that required investigation and performing routine patrol duties. At approximately 9:00 PM, Investigator Magill drove by defendant's residence on 18th Avenue SW, in Cedar Rapids. Investigator Magill saw defendant's car parked outside. Although Investigator Magill was aware of tips indicating defendant was involved in distributing methamphetamine, he did not see anything that made him believe that criminal activity was occurring at that time.

         Investigator Magill then picked up his partner, Investigator Bryan Garringer; at some point they drove past defendant's house a second time and found that defendant's car was no longer parked at the residence. The investigators observed defendant's car a few minutes later on Wilson Avenue, which was only a short distance from defendant's residence. The investigators were able to eventually get behind defendant's car as defendant drove down the on-ramp to northbound Interstate 380. The investigators followed in their car.

         Over the course of the next few miles Investigator Magill was able to use his trained observation and pacing to estimate defendant's speed. Investigator Magill determined that defendant was exceeding the speed limit by driving 68 miles per hour in a zone with a 55 miles per hour speed limit.[1] When defendant exited the interstate at H Avenue, Investigator Magill initiated a stop of defendant's car by activating the lights on his patrol car. Defendant pulled over in a timely manner. The stop was made a 9:37 PM. Exhibit B.

         Investigator Magill got out of his car, approached defendant's car, and engaged in a conversation with defendant. Investigator Magill asked for defendant's driver's license and insurance and asked if defendant knew how fast defendant was driving. Defendant admitted driving 61 miles per hour and acknowledged knowing the speed limit was 55 miles per hour. Investigator Magill looked at the insurance document provided by defendant and saw that it was expired. Defendant looked in his wallet and was able to produce an insurance card that was not expired. Investigator Magill then returned to his police car and, using his onboard computer, checked to determine if defendant's license was valid, whether the car was properly registered, and whether there were any warrants pending for defendant. Investigator Magill verified that defendant's license was valid, the car was properly registered, and there were no pending warrants. Investigator Magill was unable, however, to actually process a speeding citation because his car's computer was not equipped with the necessary program.

         In the meantime, Officer Jacob Briley arrived at the scene as backup. Officer Briley's police car was equipped with a computer program for processing speeding tickets. Investigator Magill used Officer Briley's computer to process defendant's ticket. Investigator Magill logged into the program at 9:40 PM to begin processing the ticket.[2]Exhibit A.

         At about the same time Investigator Magill began processing the ticket, Investigator Garringer called for a canine unit to come to the scene to conduct a free-air sniff.[3] In response, Officer Chris Carton arrived at the scene at approximately 9:48 PM.

         At 9:49 PM, Officer Carton retrieved his canine partner from the car and spoke with Investigator Garringer. Officer Carton then took his canine partner to the front of defendant's car to begin the free-air sniff. Investigator Magill had completed the paperwork in Officer Briley's car at about this same time and asked defendant to step out of his car so that the canine could perform its work. While the canine conducted the free-air sniff, Investigator Magill began to present the citation to defendant, explained it to him, and obtained defendant's signature acknowledging receipt of the ticket.

         Meanwhile, Officer Carton started the search, directing his canine from the front of defendant's car along the driver's side of the car. The canine stopped at the driver's side door and indicated the presence of controlled substances. Officer Carton indicated that this occurred within ten to fifteen seconds after he began the search. On the video from Officer Carton's squad car (Exhibit 1), the canine search is not visible (Officer Carton's squad car is parked behind Officer Briley's car, which has flashing lights). I could hear what sounded like Investigator Magill discussing the ticket with defendant at approximately 9:50 PM. At approximately 9:51 PM, Officer Carton returned his canine partner to his squad car. Investigator Magill testified that he was advised of the positive indication by the canine by another officer while Investigator Magill was still in the process of issuing the speeding ticket to defendant.

         Officer Carton testified that the canine's indication of the presence of controlled substances gave him probable cause to search defendant's car. He and other officers proceeded to search defendant's car. Officers found packages of methamphetamine in the trunk. Based on the evidence from the traffic stop, officers obtained a search warrant for ...

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