Iowa Supreme Court backs law enforcement in traffic stop appeal

Upholds the use of 'pretextual' stops.

Posted: Jun 28, 2019 1:25 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court has upheld policing practices that let officers charge drivers with crimes that may not be the reasons the drivers were stopped.

A divided 4-3 court Friday upheld so-called pretextual traffic stops that civil rights group say are racially discriminatory.

The court upheld the conviction of Scottize Danyelle Brown, of Waterloo, who was convicted of drunken driving and driving with a suspended license. Her car was stopped in October 2015 for having a deficient license plate light and going through an intersection as a light turned red.

The opinion written by Justice Susan Christensen concludes "it is reasonable to stop a motorist based on reasonable suspicion that the motorist violated the law."

Chief Justice Mark Cady says Iowa law must prohibit traffic stops motivated by race or any other classification, even when probable cause for a traffic violation exists.

He says such stops are offensive to the values of the constitution and disproportionally affect blacks.

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