from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Michael D.
defendant appeals his convictions for operating while
intoxicated and possession of methamphetamine.
A. Hurd of Glazebrook & Hurd, L.L.P., Des Moines, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Thomas J. Ogden, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Tabor, JJ.
found Ryan Stockbauer guilty of operating while intoxicated
(OWI) and possession of a controlled substance. On appeal,
Stockbauer contends his trial counsel was ineffective for
failing to object to alleged prosecutorial error or
misconduct in the form of (1) voir dire questions, (2)
opening and closing statements, and (3) photographic
exhibits-all intended to "inflame the passions" of
the jurors. Because the record is not adequate to decide
whether counsel followed a reasonable strategy in not
objecting, we affirm the convictions but preserve
Stockbauer's ineffective-assistance claims for possible
Facts and Prior Proceedings
early morning hours of August 3, 2016, Des Moines police
investigated the crash of a pickup truck into a tree at a T
intersection. When Officer Lucas Kramer arrived, he saw Ryan
Stockbauer crawling out of the driver-side window. Two other
passengers suffered injuries requiring attention at the
hospital. Officer Kramer testified the heavy front-end damage
to the truck was "consistent with a high speed of
travel." In his brief conversation with Stockbauer, the
officer detected signs of intoxication, including unsteady
balance, the smell of alcoholic beverages, and bloodshot
watery eyes. The officer asked how much Stockbauer had
to drink, and Stockbauer answered, "I'm
alright." The officer repeated the question, and
Stockbauer replied, "A beer or something."
told a second officer, Benjamin Ihde, the truck had bad
brakes. During their conversation, Stockbauer denied
consuming alcohol, but Officer Ihde noticed Stockbauer had
slurred speech and was "swaying in his stance." The
officer conducted the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) field
sobriety test and observed two out of six indicators of
intoxication. Stockbauer refused a preliminary breath
test. The officer did not perform any additional field
sobriety tests because Stockbauer began complaining of
injuries. Officer Ihde transported Stockbauer to the hospital
where a nurse discovered a small baggie containing
methamphetamine concealed in the waistband of
Stockbauer's underwear. The officer then read Stockbauer
the implied consent advisory, and Stockbauer refused to
submit to chemical testing.
State charged Stockbauer with possession of a controlled
substance and OWI. The case proceeded to a jury trial.
Stockbauer points to several actions by the State during
trial that he now deems objectionable. First, the assistant
county attorney probed potential jurors about their
"personal experience, either yourself or a loved
one," with controlled substances. In response, several
potential jurors discussed the devastating effect
methamphetamine has had on their lives and families. Second,
during the State's opening statement, the assistant
county attorney spent time describing the passengers'
injuries, saying the female passenger appeared to be "in
dire straits" before she was "rushed" to the
hospital. Third, the State offered sixteen photographs of the
crash scene, some showing the truck's deployed airbags
and blood-stained seats. Fourth, in closing argument, the
assistant county attorney returned to a photographic exhibit
depicting the crash scene, telling the jurors:
There's the house. There's the tree. This is a
residential neighborhood that this defendant ended up
crashing in. It's at night. People are at home. Kids are
in bed. Adults are in bed. Otherwise good citizens who are
sleeping before they go to work in the morning or resting and
minding their own business.
jury found Stockbauer guilty on both counts. He now appeals,
contending his trial attorney was ineffective in not lodging
objections to the prosecutor's attempts to arouse the
passions of the jurors.