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State v. Harris

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 21, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ANTHONY HARRIS, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Paul D. Scott, Judge.

         Defendant challenges his convictions for possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver and delivery of a controlled substance. AFFIRMED.

          Gary D. Dickey of Dickey & Campbell Law Firm, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

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

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., McDonald, J., and Carr, S.J. [*]

          MCDONALD, Judge.

         Anthony Harris appeals his convictions for one count of possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(1)(c)(6) (2016), and two counts of delivery of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(1)(c)(6). He contends the district court erred in receiving implied hearsay or indirect hearsay testimony, and he contends the evidence was insufficient to establish he possessed methamphetamine.

         Harris has not preserved for appellate review his challenge to the implied hearsay or indirect hearsay evidence. Two police officers observed Harris make two hand-to-hand drug transactions through the passenger's side window of a parked vehicle. The officers stopped the persons who engaged in the transactions and found them to be in possession of methamphetamine. The stopped persons did not testify at trial. However, the officers testified the stopped persons confirmed the officers' observations that Harris engaged in hand-to-hand drug transactions through the window of the vehicle. Harris contends the officers' testimony that the stopped persons confirmed the officers' observations was impermissible implied hearsay or impermissible indirect hearsay. But trial counsel did not object to the challenged testimony. Instead, trial counsel made a single objection when it appeared one officer was beginning to testify regarding what one of the stopped persons specifically said to the officer. This single objection is not sufficient to preserve error with respect to all of the challenged evidence. See State v. Schaer, 757 N.W.2d 630, 635 (Iowa 2008) (addressing error preservation on hearsay); State v. Farni, 325 N.W.2d 107, 109 (Iowa 1982) ("Objections to evidence must be sufficiently specific to inform the trial court of the basis for objecting. This one failed to meet this standard. The trial court ruled on the objection as it was made. Nothing more was required of him."). In a footnote, Harris contends the issue can be addressed as a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. However, Harris does not even allege he suffered constitutional prejudice. A litigant's "random mention of [an] issue, without elaboration or supportive authority, is insufficient to raise the issue for our consideration." Soo Line R.R. Co. v. Iowa Dep't of Transp., 521 N.W.2d 685, 691 (Iowa 1994). We decline to construct Harris's ineffective-assistance claim for him. We thus conclude error was not preserved on the challenge to the implied hearsay testimony, and we deny Harris's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel related to the same.

         Harris argues the evidence is insufficient to establish he possessed methamphetamine. Specifically, there is no evidence he owned the drugs and mere proximity to the drugs is insufficient to show possession. We will uphold the jury's verdict if substantial record evidence supports it. See State v. Webb, 648 N.W.2d 72, 75 (Iowa 2002). "Evidence is substantial if it would convince a rational fact finder that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." Id. at 75-76. When reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State but consider all evidence in the record. See id at 76. "The State must prove every fact necessary to constitute the crime with which the defendant is charged. The evidence must raise a fair inference of guilt and do more than create speculation, suspicion, or conjecture." Id. (internal citations omitted). "Inherent in our standard of review of jury verdicts in criminal cases is the recognition that the jury [is] free to reject certain evidence and credit other evidence." State v. Nitcher, 720 N.W.2d 547, 556 (Iowa 2006).

         To establish possession with intent to deliver, the State was required to prove:

1. On or about July 29, 2016, the defendant, or someone he aided and abetted, knowingly possessed methamphetamine.
2. The defendant, or someone he aided and abetted, knew that the substance possessed was methamphetamine.
3. The defendant, or someone he aided and abetted, possessed the substance with specific ...

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