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State v. Joiner

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 19, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DAVID TYRONE JOINER, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Marlita A. Greve, Judge.

         Defendant appeals his convictions for domestic abuse assault, possession of a firearm by a felon (habitual offender), and trafficking in stolen weapons (second offense). AFFIRMED.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Martha J. Lucey, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kelli A. Huser, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Heard by Danilson, C.J., and Doyle and McDonald, JJ.

          MCDONALD, Judge.

         David Joiner was convicted of domestic abuse assault, in violation of Iowa Code section 708.2A(2)(a) (2015), possession of a firearm by a felon (habitual offender), in violation of code section 724.26(1), and trafficking in stolen weapons (second offense), in violation of code section 234.16(A)(1)(b). In this appeal, he raises several challenges to his convictions, including claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and claims the district court erred in certain evidentiary rulings.

         The matter was tried to a jury. The record reflects the following. In March 2015, Kashona Liddell and her friend Hannah Goralczyk went out for the evening. While they were out, Liddell received upsetting text messages from her live-in boyfriend, Joiner. Goralczyk drove Liddell home and escorted Liddell inside to "be safe." Joiner was in the bedroom. Joiner asked Goralczyk to leave. Out of concern for Liddell, Goralczyk remained in the home while Liddell and Joiner remained in the upstairs bedroom, which Liddell and Joiner shared, with the door closed. Goralczyk heard a loud argument and noises she believed sounded like a fight. Goralczyk called 911.

         When the police arrived at the residence, they heard arguing. They found Joiner and Liddell in the upstairs bedroom. Liddell was crying and shaking. She had scratches with fresh blood on her neck and blood on her shirt. She said Joiner caused the injuries. The officers observed a shotgun behind the bedroom door. Liddell denied it was her gun. Subsequently, the officers confirmed the shotgun was stolen.

          Joiner was arrested and charged with domestic abuse assault by strangulation causing injury, possession of a firearm by a felon, and trafficking in stolen weapons. The jury found Joiner guilty of domestic abuse assault (a lesser-included offense), possession of firearm by a felon, and trafficking in stolen weapons. Joiner was sentenced to thirty days in jail, with credit for time served, on the domestic-abuse-assault charge. Joiner was sentenced to an enhanced sentence of fifteen years on the firearm-possession charge, with a mandatory minimum of three years. He was sentenced to serve no more than ten years on the weapons-trafficking charge. The two sentences were to be served concurrently.

         We first address Joiner's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. We review claims of ineffective assistance of counsel de novo because such claims are grounded in the Sixth Amendment. See State v. Clay, 824 N.W.2d 488, 494 (Iowa 2012). To prove ineffective assistance of counsel, Joiner must show both that counsel breached an essential duty and that prejudice resulted. See

         Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 692 (1984). A breach of an essential duty means the attorney's performance fell outside the normal range of competency. See State v. Lane, 743 N.W.2d 178, 183 (Iowa 2007). "[M]ore than mere improvident trial strategy, miscalculated tactics, mistake, carelessness or inexperience" must be shown. State v. Cromer, 765 N.W.2d 1, 8 (Iowa 2009) (citation omitted). To show prejudice, Joiner "must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694.

         Joiner contends his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective in several respects. He contends his counsel should have objected to Goralczyk's testimony Liddell told her Joiner "always hit" Liddell. Joiner contends his counsel should have objected to an officer's testimony that Liddell told him Joiner caused her injuries. Joiner contends his counsel should have objected to Goralczyk's testimony Liddell told her Joiner "had a gun." Joiner contends his counsel should have objected to an officer's testimony that the owner of the shotgun told him the shotgun was stolen from her and the owner of the shotgun told him who was present when the shotgun was stolen. Joiner contends his counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the cross-examination of witness Kelli Krana because the government's cross-examination exceeded the scope of the direct examination. Joiner also contends his counsel should have objected to an officer's testimony that the officer "had knowledge of this address [Joiner's residence] and its occupants, so we went there to assist with the call." Joiner argues this was improper prior-bad-acts evidence and his counsel was ineffective for failing to object. Joiner also contends his counsel should have objected to the same officer's testimony regarding a photograph showing Joiner holding an unlit cigar. Joiner argues this evidence was prior-bad-acts evidence because the jury could have inferred the cigar was a "blunt" used to smoke marijuana. Finally, Joiner contends his counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the stock jury instruction on possession of a stolen firearm. The instruction required only that the jury find Joiner knowingly possessed a firearm and that the firearm was stolen. Joiner contends the jury should have been instructed the State was required to prove Joiner knew the firearm was stolen.

         We note that filing a claim for ineffective assistance of counsel on direct appeal is unnecessary to protect the defendant's right to seek relief. See Iowa Code ยง 814.7 ("The claim need not be raised on direct appeal from the criminal proceedings in order to preserve the claim for postconviction relief purposes."). A party "may, but is not required to, raise an ineffective assistance claim on direct appeal . . . if the party has reasonable grounds ...


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