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State v. Troutman

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 7, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MARK ALAN TROUTMAN, Defendant-Appellant.

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

         Mark Troutman appeals from his conviction for murder in the first degree.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Robert P. Ranschau, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Thomas E. Bakke, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., Potterfield, J., and Mahan, S.J. [*]

          MAHAN, Senior Judge.

         Mark Troutman shot and killed his ex-girlfriend after being unhappy with how their relationship ended. A jury found him guilty of murder in the first degree. On appeal, Troutman contends the district court erred in overruling his motion to strike a potential juror for cause, his counsel was ineffective, and his conviction was against the weight of the evidence. Facts will be set forth below as are relevant to the issues raised.

         I. Challenge for Cause

         Troutman claims the district court erred in overruling his motion to strike a potential juror for cause. Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.18(5)(k) allows a party to challenge a prospective juror if the juror "form[s] or expresse[s] such an opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant [that] would prevent the juror from rendering a true verdict upon the evidence submitted on the trial." The district court is vested with broad discretion in ruling on a challenge for cause. State v. Tillman, 514 N.W.2d 105, 107 (Iowa 1994).

         During voir dire, defense counsel moved to strike a number of jurors for cause. The district court granted several motions by counsel but denied his motions to strike Jurors A, B, C, and D. Juror D was ultimately struck by the State's use of a peremptory strike. Defense counsel used peremptory strikes to remove Jurors A and B. Neither side used a peremptory strike to remove Juror C. Counsel used all ten of Troutman's peremptory strikes and did not request additional strikes after he exhausted his peremptory challenges.

          Troutman contends the court erred in overruling counsel's challenge to Juror C.[1]He further claims, "Forcing trial counsel to eliminate jurors through the use of peremptory strikes who should have been struck for cause resulted in structural error in the proceedings . . . ."

         After the parties filed their briefs, the supreme court addressed the issue of disqualification of jurors for cause in State v. Jonas, 904 N.W.2d 566');">904 N.W.2d 566, 576-85 (Iowa 2017). The court clarified Iowa's view on the question of prejudice when the court improperly refuses to disqualify a potential juror. Jonas, 904 N.W.2d at 583-84. Specifically, the court held:

[I]n order to show prejudice when the district court improperly refuses to disqualify a potential juror under Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.18(5)(k) and thereby causes a defendant to expend a peremptory challenge under rule 2.18(9), the defendant must specifically ask the court for an additional strike of a particular juror after his peremptory challenges have been ...

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