Parole and Consent Searches in Iowa

The Iowa Supreme Court recently handed down a 116 page opinion (including concurrence and dissent) in State v. Baldon, addressing whether a parole agreement which contains a provision requiring the parolee to agree and consent to searches of him and his property at anytime constituted valid consent to search under Article 1, Section 8 of the Iowa Constitution. In the lengthy but logical and well reasoned opinion, the Court found that such an agreement cannot be voluntary under Article 1, Section 8 of the Iowa Constitution to create a valid exception to the warrant requirement. In reaching this conclusion the Court went through an extremely thorough analysis of the history of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the cases addressing consent in that regard, as well as the historical underpinnings of Article 1, Section 8 and the cases addressing that constitutional provision. The Court then ultimately decided that the parole agreements were to coercive in nature and therefore could not be used to excuse the warrant requirements of Article 1, Section 8 of the Iowa Constitution.

In this authors opinion, the most interesting part of this opinion was the concurrence authored by Justice Apple wherein he reviews at depth the right, power, and duty of the Iowa Supreme Court to apply their own interpretation of the Iowa Constitution and depart from the holdings of the United States Supreme Court. Justice Apple's position as it relates to interpreting the Iowa Constitution is best summarized when he stated "the notion that member of the United States Supreme Court have some kind of superior wisdom that we must show deference to when interpreting provisions of the Iowa Constitution is doubtful at best." After reading this concurrence, one becomes hard pressed to argue that this is not the correct decision.

The Iowa Supreme Court needs to be applauded for this well thought out, researched, and reasoned opinion. This opinion is so well written and contains so much history surrounding State and Federal Constitutions that it should be required reading for all attorneys, law students, and citizens of Iowa. To read the full opinion click here.