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Dorris v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 11, 2017

DAN DORRIS, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, James S. Heckerman, Judge.

         Applicant appeals the district court decision denying his request for postconviction relief from his conviction for first-degree murder.

         AFFIRMED.

          Marti D. Nerenstone, Council Bluffs, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Martha E. Trout, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Bower, JJ.

          BOWER, Judge.

         Dan Dorris appeals the district court decision denying his request for postconviction relief from his conviction for first-degree murder. We find the district court did not act improperly by failing to record a postconviction hearing, by not having sufficiently specific findings of fact and conclusions of law in its decision, or by denying Dorris's request to file a pro se supplemental brief. Dorris has not shown he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The district court properly determined the rule announced in State v. Heemstra, 721 N.W.2d 549, 588 (Iowa 2006), should not be retroactively applied to Dorris's criminal conviction. We affirm the decision of the district court.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         Dorris was convicted of first-degree murder and willful injury for the shooting death of Timothy Osbourn in Council Bluffs on May 12, 1998.[1] Mike Shada testified he heard the shots and saw a gun in Dorris's hand immediately after the shooting. Dorris told Carrie Schiesow, "I just shot somebody today, " and Schiesow saw Dorris throw a gun into the river. When Dorris was arrested in Arizona, he told officers he was wanted for questioning about a murder in Iowa. Dorris's conviction was affirmed on appeal. State v. Dorris, No. 98-1904, 2000 WL 1005436, at *4 (Iowa Ct. App. June 28, 2000).

         Dorris filed an application for postconviction relief on October 10, 2003, claiming he received ineffective assistance of counsel during his criminal trial. On July 13, 2015, [2] the parties agreed the matter would be submitted through written argument and a stipulated record consisting of the trial court file, the decision of the Court of Appeals, and depositions and exhibits created for the postconviction proceeding.

         The district court denied the application for postconviction relief. The court divided Dorris's claims into two categories-strategy and lack of diligence. The court considered Dorris's contentions within each of these categories. The court determined Dorris did not show defense counsel breached an essential duty or that Dorris was prejudiced as a result of his counsel's actions. Dorris filed a pro se motion pursuant to Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.904(2), which was denied by the court. Dorris now appeals.

         II. Postconviction Hearing

         Dorris claims the district court erred by not having the postconviction proceedings recorded. He relies on Iowa Code section 822.7 (2003), which addresses postconviction hearings and provides, "A record of the proceedings shall be made and preserved." He asks to have the case remanded for a recorded evidentiary hearing. "Generally, postconviction relief proceedings are reviewed for ...


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