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State v. Huffey

Court of Appeal of Iowa

August 7, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MARTEN DANIEL HUFFEY JR., Defendant-Appellant.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Scott D. Rosenberg, Judge.

A defendant appeals his conviction challenging a jury instruction.

Robert G. Rehkemper of Gourley, Rehkemper & Lindholm, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Jean C. Pettinger, Assistant Attorney General, John Sarcone, County Attorney, and Brendan E. Greiner, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Danilson and Mullins, JJ.

MULLINS, J.

Marten Huffey appeals his conviction, following a jury trial, for operating while intoxicated (OWI), second offense, in violation of Iowa Code section 321J.2 (2011). Huffey claims the district court erred in submitting an instruction to the jury over his objection. Huffey claims the instruction improperly emphasized one piece of evidence, was cumulative, and improperly directed the jury to consider his driving for one particular purpose. We affirm Huffey's conviction as we find the instruction was properly submitted.

I. BACKGROUND FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS.

At 11:00 p.m. on January 12, 2012, Huffey lost control of his motor vehicle and crashed through three residential yards, taking out two trees and a mailbox and narrowly missing a light pole. One of the neighbors observed him getting out of the vehicle and attempting to move it. The neighbor then watched as Huffey walked away leaving his vehicle behind. The police were called, and Huffey was located three blocks south of the accident walking through residential yards. He was transported back to the scene where he failed one field sobriety test.[1] Huffey admitted to drinking a few beers but claimed he hit a patch of ice and lost control of his vehicle.

The State charged Huffey with operating while intoxicated. The case proceeded to a jury trial on May 23, 2012. Huffey's attorney objected to the court's proposed jury instruction which stated, "The State does not need to prove how the defendant was driving. However, you may consider his manner of driving in deciding if he was under the influence of alcohol." Counsel asserted the instruction improperly highlighted one piece of evidence over another "in a way that directs the jury to consider that piece of evidence as it pertains to a particular element of the offense." He also asserted the jury had already been instructed to consider any evidence presented in court and the court should not be specifically instructing the jury to consider one piece of evidence as it pertains to him being under the influence. The court overruled the objection and submitted the instruction to the jury, who found Huffey guilty as charged.

Huffey filed a motion for a new trial asserting the instructional challenge again. The court denied the motion stating the instruction was substantively based on the instruction approved of in State v. Hepburn, 270 N.W.2d 629 (Iowa 1978). The court stated the instruction "merely emphasized his manner of driving, it was the only instruction addressing [the] operation of a motor vehicle, and it referred to evidence in general." The court also noted the appellate courts have twice before considered and approved of the instruction.

Huffey appeals asserting it was error to submit the instruction.

II. SCOPE OF REVIEW.

Challenges to jury instructions are reviewed for correction of errors at law. State v. Frei, 831 N.W.2d 70, 73 (Iowa 2013). Error in giving a particular instruction warrants a reversal ...


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