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United States v. Gaffney

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

June 16, 2015

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Geoffrey Scott Gaffney, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted, February 12, 2015

Appeal from United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, Waterloo.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Dan Chatham, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Ravi T. Narayan, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa, Cedar Rapids, IA.

Geoffrey Scott Gaffney, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Anamosa, IA.

For Geoffrey Scott Gaffney, Defendant - Appellant: John P. Messina, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Federal Public Defender's Office, Southern District of Iowa, Des Moines, IA.

Before BYE, BEAM, and BENTON, Circuit Judges. BYE, Circuit Judge, dissenting.

OPINION

Page 867

BENTON, Circuit Judge.

Geoffrey Scott Gaffney conditionally pled guilty to one count of possession with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § § 841(a)(1) and 841 (b)(1)(A). He appeals the denial of his motion to suppress evidence seized from his car. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, this court affirms.

I.

Officer Albert Bovy was stopped at a red light. Directly in front of him, he saw Gaffney's vehicle approaching the intersection from the opposite direction. As the light changed to green, the vehicle, without slowing, moved through the intersection. The officer made a u-turn to follow it. Gaffney immediately braked hard and made a right turn. The officer turned on his lights. The vehicle stopped.

Officer Bovy approached and said he estimated Gaffney was driving 50 to 55 mph in a 35 mph zone. Gaffney replied, " I thought I was only going in the 40s." While he was looking for an insurance card, dispatch told the officer that Gaffney had a previous narcotics history and was still involved in illegal narcotics. Returning to the vehicle, the officer noticed Gaffney appeared nervous with beads of sweat on his forehead, a shaky voice and hands, and heavy breathing. The officer asked if he had any drugs or weapons in the vehicle. Gaffney answered " no" but declined permission to search his vehicle. The officer ordered him to exit the vehicle to prepare for a dog sniff (the officer had the dog in his car). Conducting a pat-down search, the officer detected a long round object with a bulb on the end. He asked Gaffney about it. Gaffney said nothing was in his pocket. The object was a meth pipe. The officer arrested Gaffney and had the vehicle towed. An inventory search uncovered two large Ziploc bags with four pounds of ice meth.

Gaffney moved to suppress any evidence from the traffic stop, challenging both the

Page 868

lawfulness of the stop and the pat-down search. At the suppression hearing, Officer Bovy testified he received training in identifying speed eleven years earlier. He typically did not " do much in the way of speed violations," and did not remember if he had " ever" turned on his in-car radar unit. He said his estimate of 50-55 mph was based on his general experience with traffic stops and his familiarity with the area. He did not know the distance the car traveled from when it first appeared until it passed him. Gaffney ...


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