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Daniels v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 5, 2018

DERRICK DEONDRE DANIELS, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, David P. Odekirk, Judge.

         Derrick Daniels appeals the district court's denial of his application for postconviction relief. AFFIRMED.

          Marshall W. Orsini of Carr & Wright, P.L.C., 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 Doyle and Bower, JJ.

          VOGEL, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Derrick Daniels appeals from the district court's denial of his application for postconviction relief. He asserts that his postconviction counsel was ineffective for failing to argue his trial counsel should not have withdrawn a motion to suppress his inculpatory statements. Because we find no reasonable probability that he could prevail with the other extensive evidence of his guilt properly admitted into the evidence, Daniels cannot prevail on the prejudice prong. Therefore, we affirm.

         In January 2013, officers were investigating Daniels's relatives for suspected illegal drug dealing. Officers observed Daniels exit a bus from Chicago while carrying a black duffel bag. Daniels entered the passenger side door of a vehicle driven by his relative, Latasha. When officers stopped the vehicle they found the black bag on the floor in front of Daniels. The bag contained approximately seventy grams of cocaine base or crack cocaine. Daniels was charged with possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute, in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(1)(a)(3) (2013) and failure to affix a drug-tax stamp, in violation of Iowa Code section 453B.12.

         In January 2014, the case proceeded to a bench trial and the district court found Daniels guilty of both charges. He was sentenced to fifty years in prison with a one-third minimum sentence on the possession-with-intent-to-distribute charge and five years in prison on the charge of failure to affix a drug-tax stamp. The sentences were ordered to run concurrently. This court affirmed Daniels's convictions and sentences on direct appeal. See State v. Daniels, No. 14-1442, 2016 WL 5408279, at *5 (Iowa Ct. App. Sept. 28, 2016).

         In February 2017, Daniels filed an application for postconviction relief. A hearing was held in April 2017, after which the district court denied his application. Daniels now appeals, raising an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim.

         We review ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims de novo. State v. Straw, 709 N.W.2d 128, 133 (Iowa 2006). To succeed on this claim, the claimant must show, first, that counsel breached an essential duty, and, second, that he was prejudiced by counsel's failure. Id. If the claimant's ineffective-assistance claim lacks prejudice, we may decide the claim on that ground alone. Ledezma v. State, 626 N.W.2d 134, 142 (Iowa 2001).

         Daniels asserts his postconviction counsel was ineffective for failing to provide evidence to support his claim that a motion to suppress his inculpatory statements should not have been withdrawn but vigorously pursued at trial. In its postconviction ruling, the district court addressed Daniels's claim regarding the suppression of evidence from the search and stated:

[Daniels] offers no further argument as to why such a challenge would have been successful. The court notes [Daniels's] counsel initially filed a motion to suppress evidence extending from "any stop, search, and seizure made without a warrant" on January 31, 2013. However, this was later withdrawn as shown in the court order on May 20, 2013. Without any evidence or argument made that a motion to suppress had merit and would have been successful and change the result of [Daniels's] trial, the court finds [Daniels's] claim he is entitled to post-conviction relief for his counsel's failure to seek suppression of the vehicle stop is DENIED.

         On appeal, Daniels contends that had his postconviction counsel presented evidence related to Daniels's purported confession while in jail, he would have established that Daniels was not adequately informed of his Miranda rights, [1] did not understand them, and did not knowingly and ...


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