Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Silva

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 18, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MANUEL ALLEN SILVA JR., Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Union County, Dustria A. Relph, Judge.

         The defendant appeals his two convictions of sexual abuse in the third degree.

          Steven P. DeVolder of DeVolder Law Firm, P.L.L.C., Norwalk, and William L. Kutmus of Kutmus, Pennington & Hook, P.C., West Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kyle P. Hanson, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Tabor, P.J., McDonald, J., and Blane, S.J. [*]

          BLANE, SENIOR JUDGE.

         Manuel Silva Jr. appeals both of his convictions of sexual abuse in the third degree. Silva raises a number of claims, including that he should be granted a new trial because of juror bias, juror misconduct, and the jury being improperly instructed that it could convict him without reaching a consensus as to the means of the crime. Silva also maintains trial counsel provided ineffective assistance because they failed to object to voir dire questions by the prosecutor that tainted the jury pool and to vouching statements by medical personnel during trial.

         I. Procedural Background.

         In August 2015, Silva was arrested and charged with two counts of sexual abuse in the third degree. The complaints alleged Silva had committed two sex acts, digitally penetrating the vagina of the complaining witness and placing his exposed penis in the complaining witness's hand against her will and while she was incapacitated and unable to consent.

         The matter proceeded to trial in October 2016, and the jury returned a general guilty verdict on both counts of sexual abuse in the third degree.

         After trial Silva retained new counsel and filed a motion for new trial and in arrest of judgment. The matter came on for hearing in May 2016, after which the district court denied Silva's motions and entered judgment, sentencing Silva to two ten-year terms of incarceration to be served concurrently.

         Silva appeals.

         II. Discussion.

         A. Juror Bias.

         Silva maintains he was denied a fair trial due to impermissible juror bias and claims the district court should have granted his motion for new trial. See Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.24(2)(b)(9) (providing the court may grant a motion for new trial when "the defendant has not received a fair and impartial trial"). We review a denial of a motion for new trial based on juror bias for an abuse of discretion. State v. Webster, 865 N.W.2d 223, 231 (Iowa 2015).

         "Juror bias may be actual or implied." Id. at 236. "Actual juror bias occurs when the evidence shows that a juror, in fact, is unable to lay aside prejudices and judge a case fairly on the merits, " whereas "[i]mplied bias arises when the relationship of a prospective juror to a case is so troublesome that the law presumes a juror would not be impartial." Id.

         Here, Silva maintains two of the jurors on his jury were both actually and implicitly biased. He asserts that Juror Ward and Juror Reeves were actually biased because they concealed their relationships with the complaining witness during voir dire in order to be empaneled and were presumptively biased because both jurors, as well as Silva, Silva's family, and the complaining witness, all attended the same church.

         While we recognize that it is of "particular concern" that a juror would "decline[] to truthfully answer a voir dire question in order to avoid being removed from the jury panel, " id. at 237, there is no credible evidence that such an occurrence happened here. Both Jurors Ward and Reeves were subpoenaed to testify at Silva's hearing on the motion for new trial, and both testified under oath that although each was a member of the complaining witness's church-along with approximately 280 to 300 other members-they did not know the complaining witness or Silva before the trial. Silva maintains such lack of familiarity is "implausible on its face, " but the district court found the jurors' testimony credible.

         Even if we credit the testimony of Silva's family members[1] about various interactions they witnessed between the jurors in question and the various members of the family-that the jurors had been seen shaking hands with the family members during a portion of the church service where all members were to shake hands with other members and the jurors and family members both participated together in certain church functions-such interactions do not establish actual bias. "The mere fact a juror has knowledge of parties or witnesses does not indicate actual bias or require juror disqualification." Id. at 238. Additionally, such a relationship is not so close or dependent as to rise to the level of implied bias. See id. at 236 ("Implied bias has been found to arise, for instance, when a juror is employed by a party or is closely related to a party or witness."). As our supreme court has cited with approval, a "juror's knowledge of, or non-familial relationship with, a witness, attorney, or party provides a basis for disqualification only if it is shown that it has resulted in the juror having a fixed opinion of the accused's guilt or innocence or a bias for or against the accused." Green v. State, 757 S.E.2d 856, 858-59 (Ga. 2014); see also Webster, 865 N.W.2d at 239. Nothing in the record before us indicates that the jurors in question had a fixed opinion of Silva's guilt before trial.

         The district court did not abuse it discretion in denying Silva's motion for new trial based on the claim two jurors had actual or implied bias.

         B. Juror Misconduct.

         Silva maintains he was denied a fair trial due to jury misconduct and claims the district court should have granted his motion for new trial. See Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.24(2)(b)(2) (providing the court may grant a motion for new trial when "the jury received any evidence, paper or document out of court not authorized by the court"). We review a denial of a motion for new trial based upon juror misconduct for an abuse of discretion. Webster, 865 N.W.2d at 231.

         Here, Silva maintains we should find juror misconduct because jurors Reeves and Ward, approximately one year before being empaneled, received communications ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.