Thursday, August 27, 2009

Furry Story

State v. Urban, no. 08-0891 (Iowa Ct. App. August 6, 2009)

DNR officers observed James Urban on a seldom used dirt road and investigated. Where he'd been they found a raccoon in a snare with the name of Travis Urban, James' son. on it. A warrant was obtained and in the search of the home hundreds of snares and traps, bait, and no less than forty dead raccoons and a recently deceased badger.

Urban, a serial recidivist trapper, was charged with trapping without a license and unlawful possession of animal furs.

Travis Urban testified he lived with his father but admitted he'd told the DNR men otherwise. Urban's wife testified that she did not live with Urban, but that the snares were owned by her and Urban but that Travis was using them. A fur dealer testified he'd bought furs from Travis, and police had found an envelope in the house that had Travis' name on it but handwriting addressed to "Jim".

Urban moved for a judgment of acquittal which was denied and this appeal followed.

The jury could have found that Urban had constructive possession of the furs and traps. There was no evidence that the furs were hidden or concealed, and Urban would certainly have had knowledge of the 40 raccoon pelts in his garage. The envelope from W*R furs also showed that Urban had the authority and right to maintain control over the furs.

Challenge to Search Warrant Fails

State v. Nearman, no. 08-1622 (Iowa Ct. App. August 6, 2009).

This starts out like a Cheech and Chong skit.

A car was stopped by police in Woodbury County and the occupants admitted they'd been smoking marijuana and were on their way to Nearman's to buy a pound. Based on those statements police obtained a search warrant for Nearman's home and executed it, impounding 6 pounds of marijuana, $14,000 in case, scales, and baggies.

Nearman filed a motion to suppress, alleging that the warrant was not supported by probable cause. The court disagreed, stating that the statements of the informants clearly indicated the existence of a nexus between marijuana and evidence of drug dealing and Nearman's house on the day in question. Nearman next argued that the statements of the informants were not independently corroborated.

Applying the seven part test announced in State v. Niehaus, 452 N.W.2d 184 (Iowa 1990) the court found sufficient information regarding the veracity and basis of knowledge of the two informants to conclude the information was truthful.