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Olea v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 8, 2017

JOSEPH EDWARD ALBERT OLEA, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Jasper County, Terry Rickers, Judge.

         An applicant appeals the district court decision denying his request for postconviction relief from his conviction for child endangerment causing death.

          Edward Fishman of Nelsen & Feitelson Law Group, P.L.C., West Des Moines, for appellant.

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

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

          VOGEL, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Joseph Olea appeals the district court decision denying his request for postconviction relief from his conviction for child endangerment causing death, a class "B" felony with an enhanced sentence, in violation of Iowa Code section 726.6(1)(b), (3), and (4) (2015). Because Olea could not prove either a breach of duty or any prejudice resulting from either his trial or postconviction counsel's performance, we affirm the decision of the district court denying the application for postconviction relief.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         In February 2014, following a jury trial, Olea was convicted of child endangerment causing the death of his six-month-old son, K.O. His conviction was affirmed on appeal. State v. Olea, No. 14-0218, 2015 WL 2406757, at *6 (Iowa Ct. App. May 20, 2015).

         Olea filed an application for postconviction relief (PCR) in 2015 raising claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel, and a PCR hearing was held August 25, 2016. Olea claimed his trial counsel should have objected to the alleged presence of a thirteenth juror during deliberations and trial counsel should have offered evidence the child's treating physicians were liable for failing to diagnose what he claimed was the cause of death, cerebral venus thrombosis (CVT). After receiving testimony and exhibits, the PCR court issued its ruling denying Olea's claims. Olea appeals from that ruling and also claims he received ineffective assistance of postconviction counsel. He asserts PCR counsel conceded an issue after the PCR hearing, failed to introduce evidence of a possible CVT diagnosis, and failed to file a motion pursuant to Iowa Rule of Civil Procedure 1.904(2) seeking an additional finding by the PCR court.

         II. Standard of Review

         We review claims of ineffective assistance of counsel de novo. Ennenga v. State, 812 N.W.2d 696, 701 (Iowa 2012). To establish a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, an applicant must show (1) the attorney failed to perform an essential duty and (2) prejudice resulted to the extent it denied the applicant a fair trial. State v. Carroll, 767 N.W.2d 638, 641 (Iowa 2009). An applicant has the burden to show by a preponderance of the evidence counsel was ineffective. See State v. McKettrick, 480 N.W.2d 52, 55 (Iowa 1992). While our review is de novo, we give weight to the trial court's findings on the credibility of witnesses. Taylor v. State, 352 N.W.2d 683, 687 (Iowa 1984).

         III. Trial Counsel

         A. ...


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