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Reed v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 19, 2018

UNDRAY JERMAINE REED, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Kellyann M. Lekar, Judge.

         A petitioner appeals the dismissal of his application for postconviction relief.

          Agnes G. Warutere of Warutere Law Firm, P.L.L.C., Clive, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Martha E. Trout, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Tabor, JJ.

          VOGEL, JUDGE.

         Undray Jermaine Reed appeals the district court's denial of his application for postconviction relief (PCR). He claims his trial counsel was ineffective by not objecting to the prosecutor's questioning on cross-examination of Reed's prior criminal convictions of theft, burglary, and a "felony."

         We review ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims de novo. State v. Maxwell, 743 N.W.2d 185, 195 (Iowa 2008). "In order to succeed on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, a defendant must prove: (1) counsel failed to perform an essential duty; and (2) prejudice resulted." Id. The defendant must prove both prongs by a preponderance of the evidence. Id. at 196.

         We summarized the facts behind Reed's conviction on direct appeal:

Facing a possible prison sentence in June 2015, Reed and his pit bull, Bossie, moved in with his mother and her fiancé. Reed's mother also owned a dog, a Boston Terrier mix named Chloe. Seeing how his mother disciplined Chloe, Reed was worried about Bossie's care: "I've raised the dog since she was a puppy, and I wanted to leave her in the best possible hands." When Reed confronted his mother about her treatment of Chloe, she told him: "Well, you and your dog can get the f**k out."
According to Reed's mother, he then threw an electric fan at her and punched her in the face. As her fiancé struggled to intervene, Reed head-butted his mother. Reed claimed he was acting in self-defense after his mother grabbed the front of his shirt. Reed also claimed his mother threw a lamp at him. Police responded to the scene and arrested Reed. Reed's mother suffered swelling to her head.

State v. Reed, No. 16-0448, 2017 WL 104939, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Jan. 11, 2017). A jury convicted Reed of domestic abuse assault causing bodily injury. See Iowa Code § 708.2A(3)(b) (2015). We affirmed his conviction, but we preserved issues related to the admission of his prior convictions for PCR proceedings. See Reed, 2017 WL 104939, at *4.

         Prior to Reed testifying in his criminal trial, the State sought clarification on the admissibility of his prior convictions for impeachment. Reed had a conviction for theft in 2007, three convictions for third-degree burglary in 2009, and a felony conviction for possession of a controlled substance, third or subsequent offense, in 2009. Reed's trial counsel conceded the theft and burglary convictions were admissible as crimes of dishonesty within the last ten years, and he permitted admission of the felony conviction as long as the State did not specify the kind of felony. Accordingly, on cross-examination and for purposes of impeachment, the State asked Reed if he had been previously convicted of theft, three counts of third-degree burglary, and a "felony."

         Regarding the "felony" conviction, Reed's trial counsel acknowledged for this proceeding that he should have required the trial court to weigh whether attempting to impeach Reed's testimony by mentioning his prior felony was more prejudicial than probative.[1]See Iowa R. Evid. 5.609 (2015). However, his trial counsel also believed the district court would have admitted the conviction ...


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