review from the Iowa Court of Appeals.
from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Joel A.
Dalrymple and George L. Stigler, Judges.
defendant seeks further review of a court of appeals decision
affirming his convictions and sentences.
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender (until withdrawal), and
Martha J. Lucey, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, Genevieve Reinkoester, Assistant
Attorney General, Brian J. Williams, County Attorney, and
Jeremy Westendorf, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.
defendant appeals his convictions following judgment and
sentence for the charges of driving while license barred,
possession of marijuana, possession with intent to deliver
marijuana, and failure to affix a drug tax stamp. He first
argues the district court erred in denying his motion to
suppress evidence because the police seized him in violation
of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and
article I, section 8 to the Iowa Constitution. Next, he
argues the warrant used to search his residence lacked
sufficient probable cause. He also argues his guilty pleas
for driving while license barred and possession of marijuana
were involuntary because trial counsel was ineffective for
failing to move to suppress evidence before he entered his
pleas. Lastly, he argues the district court abused its
discretion when it imposed the sentence.
appeal, we affirm the decision of the court of appeals and
the judgment of the district court. We find the officers had
reasonable suspicion to conduct the traffic stop of
Baker's vehicle; therefore, the court was not required to
suppress the evidence obtained from the stop. Because of this
finding, we also find counsel was not ineffective in failing
to file a motion to suppress prior to Baker's guilty
pleas for driving while license barred and possession of
marijuana. We further find the district court had a
substantial basis for determining probable cause existed to
support the warrant the police executed on 702 Ricker Street
in Waterloo, Iowa. Therefore, it was not required to suppress
the evidence obtained from the search of the residence.
Lastly, we will let the court of appeals decision that the
district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing
Baker's sentence stand as the final decision of this
August 2015, a Nevada State Trooper informed Officer Michael
Girsch of the Waterloo Police Department that officers from
the State of Nevada stopped a vehicle occupied by three
Waterloo residents and the vehicle contained a large
distributional quantity of marijuana and marijuana edibles.
The Nevada officers placed all three individuals under
arrest. The defendant, Justin Baker, was one of them.
April 2016, while Girsch was conducting undercover
surveillance in an unrelated investigation, he spotted
Baker's vehicle near the 700 block of Ricker Street.
Girsch said he believed Baker identified him as an officer
and drove away. Girsch said, "[I]t appeared once he saw
me sitting there, it appeared as though it had alerted him or
scared him for some reason because it was my belief that his
intention was to go to 702 Ricker Street." Girsch moved
to a different position and continued to watch Baker, who
circled back around and pulled into the driveway of 702
April 18, Black Hawk County Sheriff Officer Matthew Isley
received an anonymous phone call from someone who told Isley
he or she had been at 702 Ricker Street in the past few days
and had seen there was a distributional amount of marijuana
at the residence. The anonymous tipster told Isley that Baker
and Baker's niece, Shana Caldwell, were living at the
residence and that Baker and Caldwell told the tipster they
had recently returned to town with a shipment of marijuana.
The tipster told Isley he or she suspected Baker and Caldwell
were dealing drugs.
same day, Isley informed Girsch of the anonymous call Isley
received because both officers were working on the Tri-County
Drug Enforcement Task Force. Based on the anonymous tip and
the information they received from the Nevada State Trooper,
Isley and Girsch decided to conduct surveillance on Baker and
Caldwell at their 702 Ricker Street residence.
conducting surveillance, the officers saw Baker enter the
house and then leave in his vehicle twenty minutes later.
Both officers followed Baker. Girsch observed Baker park in
an alley and speak with one or two individuals for only
thirty seconds. Isley saw a male stick his hand in the
passenger side of Baker's vehicle, immediately pull his
hand back out, and then put his hand into his pocket. Isley
never saw any drugs but identified this as a hand-to-hand
drug transaction. Based on this, the officers directed
Sergeant Steven Bose of the Waterloo Police Department to
initiate a traffic stop on Baker's vehicle.
activated his emergency lights while behind Baker's
vehicle. Baker took an inordinate amount of time to roll to a
stop and threw a small bag of marijuana out the window of his
vehicle. Bose confirmed Baker was driving while his license
was suspended. Bose recovered the marijuana then placed Baker
under arrest. Baker had $200 in twenty-dollar bills on his
person. Due to Baker's slow roll to a stop, officers were
concerned Baker had called or texted other people who were
also involved in selling narcotics. The officers believed
others might have been destroying evidence at 702 Ricker
Street and went to the residence to secure the premises.
opened the door of her home when officers arrived. She told
them they could not enter without a warrant. The officers
entered the residence anyway. Inside, officers found
narcotics and items consistent with the sale of narcotics.
After the traffic stop, Isley and Girsch prepared a warrant
application for a search of 702 Ricker Street, which the
court granted. The officers executed the warrant the same
day. Upon reentering the residence, officers seized a
distributional amount of marijuana.
State charged Baker with five counts. On May 17, in count I,
the State charged him with driving while license barred in
violation of Iowa Code sections 321.555 and 321.561 (2016),
an aggravated misdemeanor. In count II, the State charged him
with possession of marijuana, second offense, as a serious
misdemeanor in violation of section 124.401(5). On May 18,
the State charged Baker with two more counts. In count I, the
State charged him with possession of marijuana with intent to
deliver, a class "D" felony, in violation of
section 124.401(1)(d). In count II, the State
charged him with a drug tax stamp violation, a class
"D" felony, in violation of section 453B.12. On
November 2, the State charged Baker with another count of
driving while license barred for acts alleged to have
occurred on September 28.
filed a motion to suppress evidence. In the motion, he asserted
the officers lacked probable cause to execute the traffic
stop on April 18 and any evidence stemming from the stop was
fruit of the poisonous tree. He also asserted the
officers' warrantless entry into 702 Ricker Street
violated his constitutional rights. Therefore, he argued,
because the traffic stop and warrantless entry provided the
basis for the warrant that was ultimately granted and
executed, the evidence obtained by the warrant was also
court granted Baker's motion regarding the warrantless
search of 702 Ricker Street, finding exigent circumstances
did not support the protective sweep. The court denied
Baker's motion on the other two issues. It found the stop
of Baker's vehicle was supported by reasonable suspicion
based on the information of Baker's arrest in Nevada, the
anonymous tip, and Isley's observation of what he
believed to be a narcotics transaction. On the
search-by-warrant challenge, the court found that officers
made the decision to obtain a warrant prior to their initial
entry into 702 Ricker Street. The court determined that
without considering facts obtained during the illegal entry
and search, probable cause still existed to grant the
January 24, 2017, a jury trial began for the charges of
possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and violation
of a drug tax stamp. The jury found Baker guilty of both
charges. Baker pled guilty to the two misdemeanor charges of
driving while license barred and the one misdemeanor charge
of possession of marijuana.
court sentenced Baker on all five charges. The court
sentenced Baker to five years imprisonment for the possession
of marijuana with intent to deliver and five years for the
drug tax stamp violation. For the misdemeanor charges, the
court sentenced Baker to prison for one year for each count.
The court ordered Baker to serve his sentences concurrently.
appealed. The court of appeals upheld his convictions and
sentences. Baker filed an application for further review,
which we granted.
consider four issues. First, whether the district court erred
in denying Baker's motion to suppress evidence because
the investigatory stop of Baker was not supported by
reasonable suspicion. Second, whether the district court
erred in denying Baker's motion to suppress evidence
obtained at 702 Ricker Street because probable cause did not
exist to support the issuance of the warrant. Third, whether
Baker's counsel was ineffective for failing to move to
suppress evidence before Baker pled guilty to driving while
license barred and possession of marijuana. Fourth, whether
the district court abused its discretion when it sentenced
further review, we have the discretion to review all or some
of the issues raised on appeal or in the application for
further review." State v. Clay, 824 N.W.2d 488,
494 (Iowa 2012). In exercising our discretion, we will not
address the sentencing issue and let the court of appeals
decision stand as the final decision of this court as to
whether the district court abused its discretion when it
Whether the District Court Erred in Denying Baker's
Motions to Suppress Evidence.
argues the district court erred in denying his motions to
suppress evidence under the Fourth Amendment of the United
States Constitution and article I, section 8 of the Iowa
Constitution because officers obtained evidence from an
illegal stop of his vehicle and from an illegal search of 702
Standard of Review.
Our review of challenges to a ruling on the merits of a
motion to suppress is de novo because such claims implicate
constitutional issues. State v. Ortiz, 766 N.W.2d
244, 249 (Iowa 2009). "We make an 'independent
evaluation of the totality of the circumstances as shown by
the entire record.'" State v. Scheffert,
910 N.W.2d 577, 581 (Iowa 2018) (quoting State v.
Tague, 676 N.W.2d 197, 201 (Iowa 2004)). "We give