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Case No. 19-0725

State of Iowa
Michael Hillery

In its prosecution of defendant for possession of a controlled substance, the State was granted discretionary review of a district court order granting a motion to suppress. The State contended the court erred in finding defendant’s incriminating statements were obtained from a promise of leniency. The State also contended the court should not have suppressed any physical evidence regardless of whether the statements were inadmissible. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for further proceedings. Defendant requests further review.



State of Iowa


Michael Hillery

Attorneys for the Resister

Kevin Cmelik
Katie Krickbaum

Attorney for the Applicant

Martha J. Lucey

Supreme Court

Oral Argument Schedule


Dec 15, 2020 1:30 PM


Supreme Court Opinion

Opinion Number:
Date Published:
Mar 19, 2021
Date Amended:
May 24, 2021

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
Date Published:
Jul 22, 2020

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Monica Zrinyi Wittig, Judge.  REVERSED AND REMANDED.  Considered by Tabor, P.J., and May and Greer, JJ.  Opinion by Greer, J. (16 pages)

            Upon finding an officer improperly promised Michael Hillery leniency, the district court suppressed incriminating statements Hillery made and physical evidence obtained from him.  On interlocutory appeal, the State challenges that ruling in several ways.  First, the State contends the court should not have relied on the common law evidentiary test to suppress the evidence because Hillery did not raise that ground for suppression to the district court.  Second, the State argues in the alternative that even if the district court properly considered the evidentiary exclusion rule, the court erred in determining the officer’s statements to Hillery constituted a promise of leniency.  Third, the State maintains that even if the officer improperly promised leniency, only Hillery’s statements—not any physical evidence—should have been suppressed.  Hillery urges us to affirm the district court ruling granting his motion to suppress, and he argues alternative theories for doing so.  OPINION HOLDS: Because the officer did not make an impermissible promise of leniency to Hillery, we reverse the suppression of incriminating statements and evidence obtained on the basis of the common law evidentiary rule.  We have considered Hillery’s alternative grounds for suppression and find them without merit.  We reverse the district court ruling granting the motion to suppress and remand for further proceedings.

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