Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Scott County Confidential

State v. Garrity, no. 08-0330, (Iowa May 15, 2009).

Garrity was stopped by a police officer who shall remain nameless because he's probably gotten enough crap already and I'm not going to add to it.

Let me see, where was I? Oh yes.

Officer X observed Garrity speeding and failing to use a turn signal when changing lanes. When he'd been stopped Officer X observed that Garrity's speech was slurred, and he smelled of adult beverages. He was placed in the squad car, and a second officer arrived and asked Garrity how much he'd had to drink. Garrity said he'd had a couple of beers. They ALL say that, don't they?

Garrity told Officer X he knew he was in trouble and asked to speak to a state narcotics control officer about making a deal to rat someone out and this request was refused. Garrity failed his field sobriety tests and a PBT. On arrival at the jailm Garrity refused to blow for the record and repeated his request to speak to the narcotics control officer which was again refused.

Charged with third offense OWI, Garrity moved to suppress the videotape and the test refusal under Iowa Code section 804.20 which permits a person in custody to call an attorney or family member, arguing that he'd not been informed of this right. That motion was overruled,Garrity was convicted, and the court of appeals affirmed.

This further appeal by Garrity followed.

The Supreme Court found that if the request is refused because the person requested is not within the scope of 804.20, that officer must then explain the scope of the right to the detainee. Because this did not happen, the exclusionary rule required that the test refusal had to be excluded.

However, the videotape of Garrity's interrogation did not form a part of the district court's decision regarding suppression.

The Supreme Court concluded that although the trial court should have suppressed the test refusal, it constituted harmless error, because the judge hearing the case had made her decision based on the videotaped evidence and the testimony of the officers in question.

The takehome? Explaining 804.20 is triggered when the detainee seeks to contact a person who is not an attorney or a family member. A little explanation can save a whole lotta pain and trouble, and in ninety five cases out of 100 the detainee will be so blasted they won't remember anything anyway.


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