from the Iowa District Court for Story County, Steven P. Van
Marel (suppression) and James Malloy (trial and sentencing),
District Associate Judges.
defendant appeals the judgment and sentence imposed following
her conviction for driving while barred.
C. Smith (until withdrawal), State Appellate Defender, Nan
Jennisch, Assistant Appellate Defender, and Nicholas Jones,
Student Legal Intern, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, Darrel Mullins, Assistant
Attorney General, Jessica Reynolds, Story County Attorney,
and Jonathon Holscher, Assistant County Attorney, for
Haas was convicted of driving while barred. On appeal, Haas
challenges the district court's ruling denying her motion
to suppress on the grounds she was subject to an
impermissible pretextual seizure. She also challenges the
reasonable suspicion of her stop. Further, Haas argues her
counsel was ineffective and the district court improperly
assessed court costs and attorney fees. We retained
Haas's challenge of her denied motion to suppress, we
affirm the district court's denial. "When a
defendant challenges a district court's denial of a
motion to suppress based upon the deprivation of a state or
federal constitutional right, our standard of review is de
novo." State v. Coffman, 914 N.W.2d 240, 244
(Iowa 2018) (quoting State v. Storm, 898 N.W.2d 140,
144 (Iowa 2017)). In State v. Brown, ___ N.W.2d___,
___ (Iowa 2019), we determined the subjective motivations of
an individual officer in making a traffic stop under article
I, section 8 of the Iowa Constitution are irrelevant as long
as the officer has objectively reasonable cause to believe
the motorist violated a traffic law. There, consistent with
precedent in Iowa, we affirmed the district court's
determination that the subjective reasoning in the decision
to stop the motorist did not matter because the officer
objectively observed traffic violations.
affirm the district court judgment on Haas's second
challenge, whether her stop was supported by reasonable
suspicion. The standard of review for a constitutional search
and seizure challenge is de novo. State v. Vance,
790 N.W.2d 775, 780 (Iowa 2010). We do not believe the
officers violated article I, section 8 of the Iowa
Constitution when they stopped Haas based on reasonable
suspicion that she was driving while barred. At the very
least, the officers had reasonable suspicion to stop
Haas's vehicle after they observed her and two other
people getting into the vehicle before leaving the area.
traffic stop is generally reasonable, and thus constitutional
under state and federal search and seizure provisions, if the
police have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to believe
that the motorist violated a traffic law. Navarette v.
California, 572 U.S. 393, 401-02, 134 S.Ct. 1683, 1690
(2014); Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806,
809-810, 116 S.Ct. 1769, 1772 (1996); State v.
Tague, 676 N.W.2d 197, 204 (Iowa 2004). In
Vance, we held reasonable suspicion existed to
support a traffic stop to investigate the validity of the
motorist's driver's license "when the officer
knows the registered owner of the vehicle has a suspended
license, and the officer is unaware of any evidence or
circumstances indicating the registered owner is not the
driver of the vehicle." 790 N.W.2d at 781. In doing so,
we explained, "[I]t is reasonable for an officer to
infer the registered owner of the vehicle will do the vast
amount of the driving." Id. Thus, "it is
sufficiently reasonable to generate reasonable suspicion for
an investigatory stop to resolve the ambiguity as to whether
criminal activity is afoot." Id. at 781-82.
Yet, we also noted that reasonable suspicion would disappear
if the officer obtained information suggesting that the
driver is not the owner of the vehicle. Id. at 782.
claims the police were aware of circumstances that
invalidated their assumption that Haas was driving the
vehicle when they made the traffic stop. Namely, Haas points
out that the officers in this case did not know her and
observed three people enter the vehicle but did not see which
of the three was driving. However, these circumstances do not
invalidate the officers' assumption that Haas was driving
her own vehicle when they made the traffic stop.
to initiating the traffic stop, the officers ran the license
plate of the vehicle. They identified Haas as the registered
owner and discovered that she had a suspended license. Soon
after, the officers saw a woman that "appeared to
be" Haas and two males leave the residence they were
observing. Though the officers did not see who was driving
the vehicle, it was still reasonable to assume that Haas, as
the registered owner of the vehicle, would be doing "the
vast amount of the driving." Id. at 781.
upheld the reasonableness of the search in Vance
based on the officer's observation that the vehicle was
registered to an owner with a suspended license despite the
fact that the officer did not know the owner and "was
unable to observe the sex or the identity of the
driver." Id. at 783. Likewise, the fact that
the officers in this case could not observe the driver's
sex or identity does not invalidate their assumption that
Haas was driving her vehicle. Consequently, we affirm the
district court's judgment because there was reasonable
suspicion to initiate an investigatory stop of the vehicle
Haas was operating.
ineffective-assistance claim that her trial counsel was
ineffective for declining to challenge whether the license
plate was malfunctioning fails on the merits. We review
claims of ineffective assistance de novo. State v.
Harrison, 914 N.W.2d 178, 187-88 (Iowa 2018). The United
States Constitution and the Iowa Constitution provide
defendants with the right to effective assistance of counsel.
U.S. Const. amend. VI; Iowa Const. art. I, § 10. We
generally preserve ineffective-assistance claims for
postconviction-relief proceedings so the parties can
"develop an adequate record of the claims" and
counsel charged with ineffective assistance has the chance to
respond to the claims. Harrison, 914 N.W.2d at 206.
Nevertheless, we may resolve these claims on direct appeal
when the record is adequate, as is the case here since it
involves video evidence. See id.
claims require a showing by a preponderance of the evidence
both that counsel failed an essential duty and that the
failure resulted in prejudice." Id. at 188
(quoting State v. Schlitter, 881 N.W.2d 380, 388
(Iowa 2016)). The defendant must show both prongs of this
test have been met. Id. at 206. In analyzing the
defendant's claims, we "must indulge a strong
presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide
range of reasonable professional assistance; that is, the
defendant must overcome the presumption that, under the
circumstances, the challenged action 'might be considered
sound trial strategy.'" Id. (quoting
Nguyen v. State, 878 N.W.2d 744, 752 (Iowa 2016)).
fails an essential duty if he or she "perform[s] below
the standard demanded of a reasonably competent
attorney." Id. (quoting Ledezma v.
State, 626 N.W.2d 134, 142 (Iowa 2001) (en banc)).
Prejudice results from this failure when "there is a
reasonable probability that, but for counsel's
unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would
have been different." Ledezma, 626 N.W.2d at
143 (quoting Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668,
694, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 2068 (1984)). A reasonable probability
exists if the probability is "sufficient to undermine
confidence in the outcome." Id. (quoting
Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694, 104 S.Ct. at 2068).
Ultimately, Haas must show that "absent the errors, the
fact finder would have had a reasonable doubt respecting
guilt." Id. (quoting Strickland, 466
U.S. at 695, 104 S.Ct. at 2068-69).
argues that the dash-cam video shows her vehicle had an
illuminated license plate that was not malfunctioning in any
form. Iowa Code section 321.388 requires a white, electric
light to illuminate a rear license plate to a distance of
fifty feet. Iowa Code § 321.388 (2017). The Iowa Code
also requires reflective coating on license plates.
Id. § 321.35. The absence of these equipment