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State v. Tate

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 13, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RICHARD LLOYD TATE, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Warren County, Kevin A. Parker, District Associate Judge.

         A defendant appeals from the district court's denial of his application for an investigator and an expert witness. REVERSED AND REMANDED.

          Teresa M. Pope of Branstad Law, P.L.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.

          VOGEL, Presiding Judge.

         Richard Tate appeals following the district court's denial of his application for a court-appointed investigator and an expert witness. Tate claims the district court erred by denying his application without an ex parte hearing as provided under State v. Dahl, 874 N.W.2d 348, 353 (Iowa 2016).

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         On July 28, 2016, the State charged Tate with operating while intoxicated. See Iowa Code § 321J.2 (2016). On September 9, Tate filed an application for a court-appointed investigator, stating, "Defendant requests appointment of a court-appointed investigator in this matter, and requests private investigator Scott Gratias be appointed with a fee limit of $800.00. An investigator is needed for the purpose of obtaining witness statements and obtaining other exculpatory information." The State did not file a resistance, but the court held an unreported hearing on the application on September 20. That same day, the court filed an order summarily denying Tate's application with no explanation given for the denial.

         Eight days later, Tate filed a second application for a court-appointed investigator and an expert witness "in order to locate additional evidence, and to review the evidence the State possesses." In addition, Tate asked for the application to be filed "ex parte and under seal" and cited the supreme court's recent decision in Dahl. An hour after the second application was filed, the court summarily denied Tate's second application. Again, the State filed no resistance to the application.

          On October 13, Tate filed a motion to enlarge, amend, and reconsider the previous denials along with a motion to submit an offer of proof ex parte and under seal. Again citing Dahl, Tate asserted an investigator was needed to speak with witnesses and an expert was needed to testify regarding the field sobriety tests administered and the metabolization of alcohol. In a separate motion, Tate indicated his need to file an offer of proof to support his application ex parte and under seal to provide the court facts to support his need for investigative services. The court summarily denied both motions the following day without a resistance from the State.

         On November 11, Tate filed an application for discretionary review of the decisions of the district court. Specifically, Tate alleges the court erred when it denied him an ex parte hearing according to Dahl protocol. The application was granted, and the matter was transferred to this court.

         II. Scope and Standard of Review

         We review the trial court's decision whether to grant a defendant's application for state-funded investigators or experts for an abuse of discretion. See Johnson v. State, 860 N.W.2d 913, 921 (Iowa Ct. App. ...


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