from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, David F.
Brooks appeals the denial of his postconviction-relief
J. Thomas, Attorney at Law, Mason City, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Tyler J. Buller, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Tabor,
VAITHESWARAN, Presiding Judge.
men forced their way into a home, assaulted one of the
occupants, and demanded money. The State charged Lance Brooks
with first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary.
See Iowa Code §§ 711.1, 711.2, 713.3
(2009). A jury found Brooks guilty as charged, and this court
affirmed the judgment and sentence. See State v.
Brooks, No. 11-0639, 2012 WL 3026546, at *1 (Iowa
Ct. App. July 25, 2012).
filed an application for postconviction relief. Following a
hearing, the district court denied the application. Brooks
Ineffective Assistance of Trial Counsel - Sufficiency of
jury was instructed the State would have to prove several
elements of first-degree robbery, including: "The
Defendant or the person(s) the Defendant aided and abetted
was armed with a dangerous weapon." The jury also was
instructed the State would have to prove several elements of
first-degree burglary, including: "During the incident
the Defendant or the person(s) he aided and abetted: a.
Possessed a dangerous weapon . . . ."
asserts there was insufficient evidence he was armed with a
dangerous weapon and his trial attorney should have objected
to the jury instructions to the extent they allowed the jury
to find guilt based on his acts as a principal rather than an
aider and abettor. He also contends the State could not rely
on a theory of joint criminal conduct to support a finding he
was armed with a dangerous weapon because the jury was not
instructed on that theory.
establish ineffective assistance, Brooks must show (1)
deficient performance and (2) prejudice. See Strickland
v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984).
"A claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel
based on the failure of counsel to raise a claim of
insufficient evidence to support a conviction is a matter
that normally can be decided on direct appeal."
State v. Truesdell, 679 N.W.2d 611, 616 (Iowa 2004).
"[I]f the record reveals substantial evidence,
counsel's failure to raise the claim of error could not
be prejudicial." Id.
novo review of the trial record reveals the following facts
concerning whether Brooks "was armed with" or
"possessed" a dangerous weapon. Three men
approached a home and knocked on the door. One of the men
stood at the door while the other two entered the home and
assaulted an occupant.
second occupant testified she saw a "flash of
silver," which she "knew was a gun." She was
unable to describe which one of the two people "actually
carried the gun." A third occupant stated, "I went
and I opened up the door; and I looked through it, and all I
seen was guns, and it was pushed open."
police officer testified he was approached by a woman who
told him there "were people with guns inside of her
house." He "believe[d]" the woman used
"guns" rather than a "gun." He used the
plural version in his report. A lieutenant similarly
testified he was told the men "were armed with
testimony suggests the assailants entered the home with only
one gun and a person other than Brooks wielded it. But a
reasonable juror could have given less credence to this
testimony. See State v. Shorter, 893 N.W.2d 65, 74
(Iowa 2017) (stating questions of witness credibility are for
record contains substantial evidence Brooks acted as a
principal. Accordingly, Brooks was not prejudiced by his
trial attorney's failure to challenge the sufficiency of
the evidence supporting the findings of guilt or the