United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Eastern Division
ORDER ON REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Leonard T. Strand, Chief Judge
matter is before me on a Report and Recommendation (R&R)
in which the Honorable Judge C.J. Williams, United States
Chief Magistrate Judge, recommends that I deny
defendant's motion (Doc. No. 19) to suppress evidence.
See Doc. No. 27. Defendant has filed an objection
(Doc. No. 40) to the R&R and plaintiff (the Government)
has filed a partial objection (Doc. No. 41).
district judge must review a magistrate judge's R&R
under the following standards:
Within fourteen days after being served with a copy, any
party may serve and file written objections to such proposed
findings and recommendations as provided by rules of court. A
judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of
those portions of the report or specified proposed findings
or recommendations to which objection is made. A judge of the
court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. The
judge may also receive further evidence or recommit the
matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Fed. R. Crim.
P. 59(b). Thus, when a party objects to any portion of an
R&R, the district judge must undertake a de novo review
of that portion.
portions of an R&R to which no objections have been made
must be reviewed under at least a “clearly
erroneous” standard. See, e.g., Grinder v.
Gammon, 73 F.3d 793, 795 (8th Cir. 1996) (noting that
when no objections are filed “[the district court
judge] would only have to review the findings of the
magistrate judge for clear error”). As the Supreme
Court has explained, “[a] finding is ‘clearly
erroneous' when although there is evidence to support it,
the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the
definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been
committed.” Anderson v. City of Bessemer
City, 470 U.S. 564, 573-74 (1985) (quoting United
States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948)).
However, a district judge may elect to review an R&R
under a more-exacting standard even if no objections are
Any party that desires plenary consideration by the Article
III judge of any issue need only ask. Moreover, while the
statute does not require the judge to review an issue de novo
if no objections are filed, it does not preclude further
review by the district judge, sua sponte or at the request of
a party, under a de novo or any other standard.
Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985).
December 20, 2017, a grand jury returned an indictment (Doc.
No. 2) charging defendant Jacquiere Burnside with one count
of illegally possessing a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§§ 922(g) and 924(a)(2). Burnside filed a motion
(Doc. No. 19) to suppress evidence and the Government filed a
resistance (Doc. No. 22). Judge Williams conducted an
evidentiary hearing on February 23, 2018, during which
Government's Exhibits 1 and 2 and defendant's Exhibit
A were received. The Government also presented the
testimony of Waterloo Police Officer Andrew Tindall. On
February 26, 2018, Judge Williams issued an R&R in which
he recommends that I deny the motion.
10:00 p.m. on October 20, 2017, Officer Tindall conducted a
traffic stop of a silver Hyundai Santa Fe. Burnside was the
driver of the vehicle and identified himself by name. The
stated reason for the stop was a defective left license plate
lamp. At the time of the stop, Tindall was notified that
Burnside was known to carry weapons. Tindall asked Burnside
to exit the vehicle. Burnside complied and Tindall performed
a pat down search, during which he discovered a silver Bryco
Arms Jennings Nine Model 9mm handgun on Burnside's
person. Burnside did not have a permit for the weapon.
vehicle at issue was originally equipped with two white
lights that illuminated the rear license plate. One license
plate lamp was not operating but the other was functioning
and illuminated the license plate so it could be seen within
50 feet of the vehicle. Tindall testified that he believed
the defective license plate lamp was in violation of Iowa
Code § 321.387, which addresses “Rear lamps”
on a vehicle. However, he did not issue Burnside a citation
for a defective license plate lamp.
Judge Williams' Findings
argues that evidence of the firearm should be suppressed
because the officer who stopped him lacked any reasonable
suspicion that he was in violation of Iowa law. Burnside
contends that the statute referenced by Tindall, Iowa Code
§ 321.387, is not applicable to defective license plate
lamps. Judge Williams found that the plain language of
section 321.387 was ambiguous. Doc. No. 27 at 3-4. Applying
various federal rules of statutory interpretation, he then
found that the statute only applied to rear red lamps on a
vehicle, and not rear lamps illuminating license plates.
Id. at 4-6.
Williams next analyzed whether the officer's mistake of
law was reasonable such that no Fourth Amendment violation
occurred. Id. at ...