Friday, August 11, 2006

New Court of Appeals Decisions 8-10-2006

In State v. Wise, No. 05-1543, (Iowa Ct. App. Aug. 9, 2006) a woman was interviewed because of a citizen prostitution complaint, and she appeared to have been drinking. Ultimately, the woman was arrested for public intoxication and a search incident to arrest produced cocaine and paraphernalia.

The defendant argued that the facts were insufficient to support the investigatory stop that led up to the arrest and search. The court held that when the woman staggered and turned away from the officer, that was sufficient to warrant further investigation as to the offense of public intoxication. In addition, although the woman did not completely match the description of the citizen complaint, the area of the arrest was known to be a haven for prostitution and there was sufficient evidence to raise a trained officer's suspicions.

The defendant suggested that the officer was indiscriminately targeting African American women, but the court held that the facts in evidence served to dispel the notion.

In State v. Douglas, No. 05-1020, (Iowa Ct. App. Aug. 9, 2006) a defendant was convicted at trial for possession of cocaine with intent to deliver and tax stamp violations and appealed. The defendant lived in an apartment above the Mug Shot tavern in Ottumwa, and it was reached by a stairway on the outside of the building which was secured by a lower door. An officer had received an anonymous report of cocaine sales taking place at the address and went to talk to the occupants. He entered the lower door, went up the stairway, and knocked on the inner door.

The officer heard men talking inside the apartment and knocked and a voice from inside said "Come on in." He entered and saw three men, a mirror covered with a white substance and a razor blade. The officer secured the scene and the occupants were arrested.

Douglas was arrested on an outstanding warrant and a search warrant was obtained for the premises. A motion to suppress evidence was heard, it was denied, and Douglas was convicted.

On appeal, the court examined whether Douglas had a legitimate expectation of privacy in the stairway, and if so, whether the state impermissibly invaded the premises. The court concluded that Douglas had a legitimate privacy interest in the stairway that was impermissibly invaded.

Because the officer was confronted with a door that bore two locks and a doorbell, and he made no attempt to summon the occupants to the stairway. Rather, the court considered the fact that the officer did not make an effort to summon the occupants significant. The court also opined that the consensual entry into the apartment did not purge the illegal entry into the stairway.


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