Articles Posted in Iowa Supreme Court

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In this interlocutory review on a discovery dispute, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court ordering counsel for Defendant to provide notice to the State before serving any subpoenas duces tecum on third parties and finding that there was no statutory or constitutional authority to support Defendant’s position that he had a right to issue ex parte subpoenas duces tecum. Defendant, who was charged with child endangerment, resisted the State’s motion regulate discovery and request that the district court enter an order prohibiting Defendant from issuing ex parte subpoenas duces tecum. The district court granted the State’s motion and issued a protective order stating that Defendant was prohibited from issuing any subpoena except under certain circumstances. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court grant of the motion to regulate discovery, holding (1) the proper procedure for Defendant to use if he seeks to issues an ex parte subpoena duces tecum is to file a motion setting forth the basis for the request; and (2) there is no corresponding constitutional violation under the state or federal Constitutions. View "State v. Russell" on Justia Law

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The district court did not abuse its discretion in commencing a criminal trial on June 26 and then postponing the presentation of evidence to July 7, eight days after the June 29 expiration of the speedy trial deadline due to the unavailability of medical experts. Defendant was charged with attempted murder and other offenses. Jury selection was reset for June 26. Eleven days later, on July 7, the State called four witnesses, including a medical expert. The jury found Defendant guilty of the lesser included offenses of assault with intent to inflict serious injury, criminal trespass, and willful injury causing serious injury. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentence, holding (1) assuming, without deciding, that the court’s use of a start-and-stop procedure to avoid the speedy trial deadline should be analyzed under the same standards as a straightforward extension of the speedy trial deadline, the trial court acted within its discretion; and (2) Defendant’s other issues on appeal were without merit. View "State v. McNeal" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of two lottery-related offenses - fraudulently passing or redeeming, or attempting to pass or redeem, a lottery ticket; and influencing or attempting to influence the winning of a prize through fraud, deception, or tampering with lottery equipment or materials. Defendant moved to dismiss both charges as untimely. The district court denied the motion, concluding (1) the fraudulent passing and tampering charges were continuing offenses under Iowa Code 802.7; and (2) the one-year fraud extension of the statute of limitations provided in Iowa Code 802.5 applied to the charges. On appeal, Defendant claimed that his prosecution on both charges was barred by the three-year statute of limitations. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the fraudulent passing charge was not a continuing offense, and any “passing” alternative must have been completed prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations; and (2) because the State did not show that it pursued its investigation with due diligence, the State was not entitled to a one-year fraud extension on the tampering charge, and therefore, the tampering charge should have been dismissed. View "State v. Tipton" on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to attempted murder and burglary in the second degree for a crime he committed when he was a juvenile. Following a resentencing hearing, the district court sentenced Defendant to a term of incarceration of twenty-five years for attempted murder, with seventy percent of the sentence to be served prior to parole eligibility. Defendant appealed, arguing that the district court failed properly to apply the relevant sentencing factors in sentencing him to a period of incarceration without eligibility for parole. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s sentence and remanded for resentencing consistent with the sentencing factors as explained in State v. Roby, __ N.W.2d __ (Iowa 2017), also filed today, holding that the district court abused its discretion in imposing a minimum period of incarceration without eligibility for parole where the court (1) misapplied the relevant factors identified and explained in Roby; and (2) failed to consider some of the relevant factors and gave improper weight to factors beyond those described in Roby. View "State v. Majors" on Justia Law

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Iowa Const. art. I, section 17 does not categorically prohibit a district court form sentencing a juvenile offender to a minimum term of incarceration without the possibility of parole, provided that the court only imposes the sentence after a complete and careful consideration of the relevant mitigating factors of youth. Defendant, who was a juvenile at the time of his offense, was resentenced to a minimum term of incarceration of seventeen and one-half years for sexual abuse in the second degree. Defendant appealed, arguing that any minimum term of incarceration without the possibility of parole is unconstitutional. The court of appeals affirmed the sentence. The Supreme Court remanded for resentencing, holding that, while the Iowa Constitution does not require abandonment of the practice at issue, the district court abused its discretion in this case by imposing a sentence of incarceration without parole eligibility. View "State v. Roby" on Justia Law

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Defendant did not have a right to counsel under Iowa Const. art. I, section 10 when he voluntarily participated in a noncustodial police interview under the supervision of an Iowa county attorney even though the State’s criminal investigation was focusing on Defendant as the primary suspect at the time. Defendant was found guilty of murder in the first degree. During trial, the district court instructed the jury that it could infer Defendant acted with malice aforethought from his use of a baseball bat. The jury found Defendant killed the victim without justification and with malice aforethought. The court of appeals affirmed the judgment and sentence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the level of prosecutorial involvement at the time of the interview did not create a prosecution or case that would trigger the right to counsel under article I, section 10; and (2) the jury could properly infer malice aforethought from Defendant’s use of a deadly weapon even though Defendant did not bring the weapon to the encounter. View "State v. Green" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that Defendant must be allowed to withdraw his plea of guilty to a criminal offense because Defendant would not have accepted the plea agreement if he had been provided the effective assistance of counsel to which he was constitutionally entitled. Defendant, who entered the United States without examination by the Department of Homeland Security, pleaded guilty to aggravated misdemeanor forgery. Based on this conviction, he was removed from the United States to Mexico. After Defendant returned to the United States he filed for postconviction relief, asserting that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel because counsel did not advise him pleading guilty to an aggravated felony has severe immigration consequences. The district court agreed and vacated Defendant’s conviction. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals, affirmed the district court, and remanded to allow Defendant to withdraw his plea and stand for trial, holding that counsel provided constitutionally deficient performance, and this deficiency resulted in prejudice. View "Diaz v. State" on Justia Law

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Iowa’s forgery statute is preempted on its face by federal immigration law. Further, Iowa’s identity theft statute is field preempted as applied in this case, and enforcement of the identity theft statute is conflict preempted in this case. Appellant was an undocumented citizen who was brought to Iowa by her parents when she was eleven years old. Appellant was educated in Iowa public schools, lived in Iowa continuously, and was a mother of four children who were United States citizens. Appellant applied for and received temporary lawful immigration status from the Department of Homeland Security pursuant to the Department’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Appellant was later prosecuted by the State for using false documents to obtain federal employment authorization. Appellant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that federal law preempted her prosecution under the Iowa identity theft and forgery statutes. The district court denied the motion, concluding that the charges of identity theft and forgery were state crimes independent of Appellant’s immigration status. The Supreme Court reversed. View "State v. Martinez" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s conviction for domestic abuse assault, third offense, and remanded this case for a new trial, holding that Defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel failed to request a jury instruction defining “household member.” The court thus vacated the decision of the court of appeals, which affirmed the conviction over a dissent. The majority concluded that defense counsel had breached an essential duty by failing to request the definition instruction but that Defendant failed to show prejudice because the State had presented sufficient evidence of cohabitation. The Supreme Court held (1) because the central issue at trial was whether Defendant and the victim had been cohabitating, the jury should have been given the definition instruction, which accurately set forth the factors bearing on that issue; and (2) therefore, defense counsel’s failure to request the instruction was prejudicial, necessitating a new trial. View "State v. Virgil" on Justia Law

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Defendant, a juvenile, pleaded guilty to four counts of willful injury causing serious injury. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the district court sentenced Defendant to indeterminate sentences not to exceed ten years on each of the four counts to run consecutively for a maximum sentence of forty years. No mandatory minimum sentence was imposed, but because Defendant’s crime was a forcible felony, the sentencing judge was unable to consider a deferred judgment or probation as a sentencing option. Defendant filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence, which the district court denied. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court, holding (1) the forcible felony sentencing statute, Iowa Code 907.3, is not unconstitutional as applied to juvenile offenders; and (2) in considering a motion to correct an illegal sentence, the district court is not required to conduct an individualized sentencing hearing as to all juveniles regardless of whether the sentence has a mandatory term of years. View "State v. Propps" on Justia Law