from the Iowa District Court for Buchanan County, George L.
defendant appeals his conviction for domestic abuse assault
causing bodily injury. AFFIRMED.
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Brenda J. Gohr,
Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Genevieve Reinkoester,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
convicted David Uchytil of domestic abuse assault causing
bodily injury based on evidence he shoved, struck, and
strangled the mother of his children. Uchytil claims his
conviction is invalid because he did not receive effective
representation. He alleges his attorney should have sought
recusal by the trial judge for "overintervention"
in the parties' presentation of the case. We are unable
to resolve this allegation on direct appeal. We affirm
Uchytil's conviction, but preserve his
ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim for possible
postconviction-relief (PCR) proceedings.
Facts and Prior Proceedings
and Tracy have two daughters in common: T.R. and A.R. In
September 2015, the older daughter, T.R., then eighteen,
called 911 to report her dad was being "violent"
with her mom. When police officers arrived, Tracy told
them Uchytil had struck her face, pushed her down on the
floor, and placed his hand on her neck. The officers
documented a red lump under Tracy's eye and red marks at
her jaw line. Tracy recalled the injuries "hurt very
badly." By contrast, Uchytil told the police
"nothing physical" occurred during the argument.
State originally charged Uchytil with aggravated misdemeanor
domestic abuse assault, alleging he strangled Tracy.
See Iowa Code §§ 708.2A(1), 708.2A(2)(d)
(2015). After Uchytil waived his right to a speedy trial, the
court approved numerous continuances. In September 2017, the
State filed an amended trial information, reducing the charge
to domestic abuse causing bodily injury, a serious
misdemeanor. See Iowa Code § 708.2A(2)(b).
Later that month, the case proceeded to a jury trial. The
State presented testimony from Tracy, T.R., and two police
trial, an issue arose concerning a possible witness, B.J.-a
friend of Tracy's younger daughter, A.R. Uchytil claimed
B.J. was visiting Tracy's home during the incident. After
selecting the jury, the defense moved for a mistrial so it
could investigate B.J.'s testimony. The defense expected
B.J. to impeach the version of events offered by Tracy and
T.R. Specifically, the defense anticipated B.J. would testify
T.R. was upstairs with her boyfriend during her parents'
argument and did not see Uchytil assault Tracy.
district court denied the mistrial motion, expressing concern
the case had already been pending for two years. The court
assured the defense it was free to call B.J. or T.R.'s
boyfriend to testify for Uchytil. But even after the mistrial
ruling, the court seemed preoccupied with the state of the
evidence on this issue. For example, during the State's
case, the judge intervened in the direct examination of
Before you leave this witness to cross-examination, I think
it would be helpful to the jury if you would have the witness
give explicit testimony as to what people were in the home,
the locations of those individuals at the time of the alleged
assault, who actually saw the alleged assault and things of
that nature, so that the jury will have an ironclad
understanding as to what she is testifying to.
prosecutor complied with the court's suggestion, asking
Tracy who was present at the time of the alleged assault ...