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State v. Ford

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 18, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
TROY J. FORD, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Cheryl E. Traum, District Associate Judge.

         A defendant appeals his conviction for third-offense possession of marijuana.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, (until withdrawal) and Shellie L. Knipfer, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Tyler J. Buller, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., Tabor, J., and Vogel, S.J. [*]

          TABOR, JUDGE.

         A Davenport police officer mistakenly arrested Troy Ford based on an outstanding warrant for a different individual. Ford argues the search incident to that invalid arrest was unreasonable and the district court should have suppressed the marijuana found. Because the officer did not act reasonably in searching Ford before verifying his identity as the person named in the warrant, we reverse the suppression ruling and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         Davenport police officers Ryan Leabo and Angela Jarrin responded to a domestic disturbance just after 10:00 p.m. in late January 2018, according to the minutes of testimony. The dispatch reported "a black male had been assaulting a white female on the porch." When the officers arrived, they could hear arguing inside the house.

         Finding six people inside, the officers separated to speak with different factions. The residents asked Officer Jarrin to remove a female guest. That guest told the officer the disturbance at the house was "only a verbal argument." Meanwhile, Officer Leabo asked resident Troy Ford to come outside so he "could interview him about the incident." Officer Leabo wrote the following in his case report narrative:

I gathered Troy's information and ran a standard wanted check on Troy. Dispatch informed me he had multiple warrants. I asked dispatch if the warrants were valid. Dispatch informed me they were. I placed Troy in properly spaced and double locked handcuffs. Troy stated he did not believe the warrants were valid and he had been mixed up with another Troy Ford before.
I walked Troy back to my squad car. A search incident to arrest revealed 2.10 grams of marijuana (confirmed with a Valtox test) in the defendant's right pocket. I initially was not sure if the narcotics was marijuana due to the fact it was finely ground. Troy excitedly uttered it was marijuana when I asked him if it was heroin.
Dispatch asked me to confirm Troy's information. I gathered Troy's social security number and included that with his name and date of birth. Dispatch informed me they thought I had a different Troy Ford and the person I had was not wanted.

         The State charged Ford with possession of marijuana, third or subsequent offense. See Iowa Code § 124.401(5) (2018). Ford moved to suppress the marijuana, alleging the search violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 8 of the Iowa Constitution. The parties stipulated to the facts asserted in the defense motion and the State's resistance, presenting no evidence at the suppression hearing. The district court denied the motion to suppress.

         After that denial of his motion to suppress, Ford waived his right to a jury and agreed to a bench trial on the minutes of testimony. The court found Ford guilty as charged. Ford now appeals. He raises two claims: (1) the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress and (2) the court erred by not conducting a full hearing to determine whether his stipulation to the prior drug offenses was ...


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