from the Iowa District Court for Dallas County, Paul R.
defendant appeals from his three convictions for first-degree
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Robert P. Ranschau,
Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Benjamin M. Parrott,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Potterfield, J., and Blane,
Hernandez Ventura appeals from his three convictions for
first-degree murder. On appeal, Hernandez Ventura maintains
the district court abused its discretion in denying his
motion to strike a juror for cause. He also maintains the
district court erred in refusing to instruct the jury on the
defense of necessity and that the instruction informing the
jury the defense of compulsion was not available to him
should have included language that evidence relevant to that
defense may still be relevant to other issues in the case.
to Strike. During voir dire, Hernandez Ventura
challenged for cause a potential juror on the grounds the
potential juror could not be fair and impartial toward him.
See Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.18(5)(k) (allowing either the
State or the defendant to challenge a juror for cause when
the potential juror has "formed or expressed such an
opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant as
would prevent the juror from rendering a true verdict upon
the evidence submitted at trial"). The district court
denied Hernandez Ventura's motion, ruling:
I think the question is whether or not a juror has a-not
whether they have a preconceived opinion, but whether they
have a preconceived opinion that they cannot lay aside.
And I think [the potential juror] has indicated that she
believes she can listen to the evidence in the case and make
a decision based on the evidence and the instructions of the
counsel ultimately used a peremptory strike to remove the
juror from the panel. Hernandez Ventura asks us to revisit
our supreme court's ruling in State v.
Neuendorf, 509 N.W.2d 743, 747 (Iowa 1993), in which
the court overruled the longtime historical precedent of
presuming prejudice from the fact that the defendant has been
forced to waste a peremptory challenge. Following
Neuendorf, "[t]he search for legal prejudice
must therefore focus on the potential for prejudice that
flowed from forcing defendant to use a peremptory challenge
on [the challenged juror] that might have been used to remove
another juror." 509 N.W.2d at 746. It is up to the
defendant to "make some factual showing that this
circumstance resulted in a juror being seated who was not
we are not at liberty to revisit precedent, our supreme court
recently revisited Neuendorf in State v.
Jonas, 904 N.W.2d 566, 583-84 (Iowa 2017). In
Jonas, the court ruled that when the district court
abuses its discretion by improperly refusing "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
exhausted." 904 N.W.2d at 583. When the defendant does
so, "prejudice will then be presumed." Id.
However, "where a judge improperly denies a challenge
for cause but the defendant does not specifically ask for an
additional peremptory challenge of a particular juror after
exhausting his peremptory challenges, "
Neuendorf remains good law. Id.
even if we assume without deciding that the district
court's denial of Hernandez Ventura's for-cause
challenge was an abuse of discretion, Hernandez Ventura is
not entitled to a new trial. First, Hernandez Ventura did not
have the benefit of Jonas's requirement of
requesting an additional peremptory strike at the time of his
trial and did not ask for an additional peremptory challenge
after his had been exhausted. Thus, we apply the
Neuendorf standard and do not presume prejudice. In
order to obtain relief, Hernandez Ventura has the burden to
establish "that the jury that did serve in the case was
not impartial . . . based on matters that appear o[n]
record." Neuendorf, 509 N.W.2d at 747.
Hernandez Ventura concedes he cannot establish prejudice
under this standard.
Jury Instructions. Hernandez Ventura makes a
two-part challenge to the jury instructions. First, he
maintains the district court was in error in denying his
request to instruct the jury on the defense of necessity.
Second, he claims that the instruction informing the jury the
defense of compulsion was not available to him should have
included language that ...