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State v. Hampton

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 6, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
ROBERT WILLIAM HAMPTON, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Bremer County, Peter B. Newell, District Associate Judge.

         Robert Hampton appeals his conviction and sentence for possession of methamphetamine.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Mary K. Conroy, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.

          MCDONALD, JUDGE.

         Robert Hampton was convicted of misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(5) (2017). In this direct appeal, Hampton contends the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of an allegedly unconstitutional traffic stop and roadside detention. Hampton also contends his sentence is illegal because the district court ordered Hampton to pay the costs for an associated, but dismissed, criminal case.

         The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution safeguards "[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." U.S. Const. amend. IV. Article I section 8 "of the Iowa Constitution is substantially identical in language to the Fourth Amendment[, ]" and both provisions are "usually deem[ed] . . . identical in scope, import, and purpose." State v. Kreps, 650 N.W.2d 636, 640-41 (Iowa 2002) (citing Iowa Const. art. I, § 8; State v. Scott, 409 N.W.2d 465, 467 (Iowa 1987)). The key inquiry of any search-and-seizure claim is reasonableness under the circumstances presented. See Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106, 108-09 (1977) ("The touchstone of our analysis under the Fourth Amendment is always 'the reasonableness in all the circumstances of the particular governmental invasion of a citizen's personal security.'" (citation omitted)).

         Although the touchstone of any search-and-seizure claim, whether arising under federal or state law, is reasonableness under the circumstances presented, Hampton correctly notes that "[e]ven 'in . . . cases in which no substantive distinction [appears] between state and federal constitutional provisions, we reserve the right to apply the principles differently under the state constitution compared to its federal counterpart.'" State v. Gaskins, 866 N.W.2d 1, 6 (Iowa 2015) (quoting King v. State, 797 N.W.2d 565, 571 (Iowa 2011)). Of course, "our independent authority to construe the Iowa Constitution does not mean that we generally refuse to follow the United States Supreme Court decisions." State v. Short, 851 N.W.2d 474, 490 (Iowa 2014). "Rather, it merely assures that we 'exercise . . . our best, independent judgment of the proper parameters of state constitutional commands,' as we are constitutionally required to do." Gaskins, 866 N.W.2d at 7 (quoting Short, 851 N.W.2d at 490).

         In exercising our independent judgment, we may determine that the state constitution provides lesser or greater protection than its federal counterpart. This was explained by former Oregon Supreme Court Justice Hans Linde, widely considered the godfather of independent state constitutionalism:

The right question is not whether a state's guarantee is the same as or broader than its federal counterpart as interpreted by the Supreme Court. The right question is what the state's guarantee means and how it applies to the case at hand. The answer may turn out the same as it would under federal law. The state's law may prove to be more protective than federal law. The state law also may be less protective. In that case the court must go on to decide the claim under federal law, assuming it has been raised.

         Hans A. Linde, E Pluribus-Constitutional Theory and State Courts, 18 Ga. L. Rev. 165, 179 (1984). This understanding of the interplay between the federal constitution and the state constitutions was adopted by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. See Massachusetts v. Upton, 466 U.S. 727, 738 (1984) (Stevens, J., concurring). The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas explained the issue in the search-and-seizure context:

We understand that our holding means that Section 9 of our Bill of Rights does not offer greater protection to the individual than the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and it may offer less protection. But our holding is the construction that is faithful to the Constitution which our people have adopted, and it is our duty to interpret that Constitution independent of the interpretations of federal courts. Heitman v. State, [815 S.W.2d 681 690 n.22 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991)].
As the Court of Appeals noted in this case, Heitman [v. State] does not mean that the Texas Constitution cannot be interpreted to give less protection than the federal constitution. It only means that the Texas Constitution will be interpreted independently. See Hulit v. State, 947 S.W.2d [707, 709 (Tex. App. 1997)]. Its ...

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