from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, George L.
Bradford appeals the district court's denial of his
postconviction relief application. AFFIRMED.
D. Tindal of Nidey Erdahl Tindal & Fisher, Williamsburg,
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.
Bradford filed a postconviction relief application, raising
several challenges to his 2005 conviction for possession of a
controlled substance with intent to deliver (second offense
and as a habitual offender). The controlled substance was
discovered following the stop of a vehicle Bradford was
driving. The drug was located in the book bag of a woman in
the front passenger seat.
postconviction relief court held a lengthy evidentiary
hearing, after which the court denied the application. On
appeal, Bradford contends his trial attorney was ineffective
in (1) failing to call a witness in his criminal trial and
(2) "failing to address the ineffective assistance of
counsel claim concerning plea negotiation." Bradford
must show (1) counsel breached an essential duty and (2)
prejudice resulted. Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). Our review of
these ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims is de novo.
Nguyen v. State, 878 N.W.2d 744, 750 (Iowa
Failure to call Witness
argues his trial attorney should have called his friend,
De'Taris Smith, as a witness. He argues Smith would have
confirmed the drugs belonged to the passenger of the vehicle
rather than Bradford. And, he asserts, this evidence was
known by counsel and indeed "was literally knocking on
trial counsel's door."
testified at the postconviction relief hearing. He stated he
had phone conversations with the vehicle passenger and
encouraged her "to tell the truth about what [she was]
doing" and her "role in the situation." He
said he told a police investigator about these phone calls
and tried to call Bradford's attorney "for two weeks
straight, " without success.
attorney testified he recalled Smith by name but not
personally. He could not say Smith did or did not call him.
He was aware Smith spoke to a police investigator and, during
the conversation, referred to Bradford as "a drug
dealer." He testified, "I didn't want that
coming into trial." He explained, "I don't
think he would have helped a thing, based on what I
acted reasonably and strategically in declining to put Smith
on the stand in light of his prior characterization of
Bradford as a drug dealer. See Schrier v. State, 347
N.W.2d 657, 664 (Iowa 1984) ("[C]ounsel's failure to
call these witnesses involved the consistent application of
the same trial strategy. . . . He was banking on a directed
verdict and did not wish to risk putting witnesses on the
stand who might have unexpectedly opened up something which
would upset that expectation."). Notably, the
postconviction relief court "placed credibility
with" the attorney and found Smith's testimony
"to not be credible." We give weight to this
credibility finding. See Ledezma v. State, 626
N.W.2d 134, 141 (Iowa 2001). We conclude Bradford failed to
prove his trial attorney breached an essential duty.