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State v. Howard

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 13, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
PAUL KENNETH HOWARD, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mark R. Lawson, Judge.

         The defendant appeals his conviction of harassment in the first degree.

          Sharon D. Hallstoos, of the Halstoos Law Firm, Dubuque, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Richard J. Bennett, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

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

          POTTERFIELD, Judge.

         Paul Howard appeals his conviction of harassment in the first degree. He claims the court erred denying his motion for judgment of acquittal because the evidence does not support the elements of the crime. He also claims trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion for new trial. We affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         On May 17, 2016, Howard was charged by trial information with the crime of harassment in the first degree, pursuant to Iowa code section 708.7(2) (2016). The charges arose from an April 12 disruption at the Scott County Administration Building where Howard allegedly threatened to kill a bailiff working security. The defendant waived his right to a jury trial, and the case was tried to the bench on August 29.

         At trial, Janet Dolan, the bailiff who was providing security for the Scott County Administration building testified about her encounter with Howard on April 12. She stated she heard "a very loud disturbance" coming from the treasurer's office. She described the disturbance as an angry, male voice that was "cussing and swearing." Upon her investigation, she discovered Howard standing in line in a crowded room yelling, "These stupid fucking white crackers. Pieces of shit can't get anything right." She stated other people in the room appeared upset and afraid.

         Dolan testified she approached Howard and asked him to leave the building. She stated the defendant responded by yelling multiple times, "I'm a thirty-year-old man, you white bitch. You can't tell me what to do." Eventually, Howard left the building and Dolan followed him to ensure he left the premises.

         According to Dolan, once she and Howard were outside the building, Howard walked towards the sidewalk and stated, "[Y]ou fucking white bitch. White cracker whore. I'm going to go get a gun and come back and kill you." Dolan stated Howard continued to complain and he walked over to the railroad tracks, picked up a rock, and threw it at her.

         Dolan also testified that people are often upset at the administration building, and she is trained to escort people out of the building as peacefully as possible. She stated standard procedure is to ensure the individuals leave the property without force.

         At the close of the State's case, Howard moved for a judgment of acquittal. The court denied Howard's motion, holding "there is sufficient evidence that could convince a rational trier of fact on ...


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