Motion to suppress request denied

CLINTON — Chief District Judge Marlita Greve denied a Clinton man's request for suppression of evidence.

Steven E. Struve, 37, 808 S. Eighth St., filed a motion to suppress evidence through his attorney, Harold DeLange. Assistant Clinton County Attorney James McHugh filed a resistance to the motion. Struve is charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, namely methamphetamine, a Class B felony, and one count of failure to affix Iowa drug tax stamp, a Class D felony, as a habitual offender.

Greve on Wednesday ordered the motion to suppress be denied in its entirety. The order states Struve in the motion to suppress argues he was stopped without sufficient probable cause. He argued the subsequent warrantless search of his vehicle was without his consent in violation of his rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure under the Iowa State Constitution and the United States Constitution. Struve requested all evidence obtained as a result of the stop be suppressed. The State resisted the motion, contending Struve's rights were not violated.

The order says the court found the stop of Struve's vehicle was lawful. The order says officers had reasonable suspicion and belief that Struve was texting or improperly operating his cell phone when they observed him manipulating the screen while driving on a road. The order says Iowa Code does not provide an exception for surfing a photo gallery as it does for placing a telephone call, using GPS or a navigation system or deactivating a telephone call.

Greve adds in the order that when officers approached the vehicle, they saw drug paraphernalia in the back seat of the vehicle.

"The officers' search of the vehicle's interior, including the center console, was authorized due to their plain view of illegal materials in the car and under the automobile exception to the warrant requirement," the order states.

The order says around 9 p.m. Oct. 2, Clinton police officers were driving west on Camanche Avenue and observed a light in the front seat compartment of a vehicle coming from a cell phone Struve was holding in front of his face as he drove. Both officers testified they saw him manipulating the cell phone. The officers initiated a traffic stop. Struve said he did not know it was illegal to text on the cell phone while driving. He said he was searching his photo gallery, showing photos to his passenger.

An officer observed what he believed was a meth pipe in the back seat in plain view. Another officer thought he saw the neck and top of a bong. Officers decided to have the passengers exit the vehicle. Officers then determined they had probable cause to search because of the illegal paraphernalia they saw in plain view in the back seat of Struve's vehicle.

"Officer Schumacher searched the front compartment and Officer Blake searched the rear compartment," the order states. "Officer Schumacher had trouble lifting the console lid and discovered some screws were missing. It was finally opened and underneath the tray of the console, a quantity of methamphetamine and a digital scale were found. Officer Blake's search revealed the meth pipe he saw was attached to the bong Officer Schumacher had seen. Nothing else of evidentiary value was discovered in the back compartment of the vehicle."