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State v. Jackson

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 6, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RASHAWN LEE JACKSON, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Jeffrey L. Harris, District Associate Judge.

         Rashawn Lee Jackson appeals his convictions for assault and assault causing bodily injury. AFFIRMED.

          Brian S. Munnelly of Munnelly Law Office, Omaha, Nebraska, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Heard by Vogel, C.J., Vaitheswaran, J., and Danilson, S.J, [*] but decided by Vogel, C.J., Doyle, J., and Danilson, S.J. Vaitheswaran, J., takes no part.

          VOGEL, CHIEF JUDGE.

         Rashawn Jackson appeals his convictions and sentence after a jury found him guilty of assault and assault causing bodily injury in violation of Iowa Code sections 708.1, 708.2(6), and 708.2(2) (2017). Jackson argues (1) his trial attorney failed to provide effective assistance of counsel when she neglected to object to both the district court and the county prosecutor referring to the complaining witness as "the victim," (2) the racial composition of Jackson's jury pool violated his constitutional right to an impartial jury, and (3) the district court erred by overruling Jackson's motion for a directed verdict. We affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         "Viewing the trial evidence in the light most favorable to the jury's guilty [verdict]," State v. Romer, 832 N.W.2d 169, 172-73 (Iowa 2013), the jury could have found the following facts. On the morning of March 31, 2017, Zaikiah Soesbe was waitressing at a downtown Waterloo restaurant when Jackson, her boyfriend of approximately six months, entered the establishment. Jackson was extremely angry, as he recently learned Soesbe cheated on him, and an argument between the two ensued. Soesbe's manager interjected and demanded Jackson leave. The couple left the establishment, but continued their heated exchange outside. A security camera at the restaurant captured some of their interactions, including Jackson physically confronting Soesbe inside and outside the building. Eventually, the couple left together and drove to the apartment Soesbe shared with her two children and her mother. The argument continued upon arriving at the residence, and Soesbe suffered additional physical injuries as a result.

         Soesbe called 911, but Jackson had fled by the time police arrived. While the responding officer interviewed Soesbe, Jackson returned to the residence. When asked, Soesbe lied and told the officer that Jackson was "Kyle," her "mom's friend." Soesbe initially expressed a desire to leave for the evening with her children and stay at a women's shelter, but she ultimately opted against it. Skeptical, the responding officer departed.

         That evening, police were responding to a disorderly conduct call at an adjacent apartment unit when Soesbe flagged them down. Soesbe admitted she had lied to police earlier and gave a detailed account of her encounter with Jackson. Photographs were taken of the injuries Soesbe sustained and the damage Jackson had caused in the apartment.

         On May 30, 2017, Jackson was charged with domestic abuse assault by knowingly impeding the flow of air or circulation of blood and domestic abuse assault causing bodily injury. See Iowa Code §§ 708.1, 708.2A(2)(b), (d). During the pretrial proceedings, Jackson's attorney suggested her client's constitutional rights may have been violated because of the underrepresentation of African-Americans in the jury pool. The jury manager was unavailable at that time to lay foundation for the presentation of necessary records, but those records were available to Jackson. The district court denied counsel's request for a new jury venire, but it encouraged the defense to revisit the issue before the conclusion of the jury selection should she see fit to do so.

         No further objection was made, and the case proceeded to trial. After the close of the evidence, Jackson's attorney moved for a judgment of acquittal, which the district court denied. The jury found Jackson guilty of assault and assault causing bodily injury. Jackson was subsequently sentenced to two terms of incarceration-thirty days and 365 days-to run concurrently. He now appeals.

         II. Standard of Review

         Ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims are reviewed de novo. State v. Thorndike, 860 N.W.2d 316, 319 (Iowa 2015). A district court's denial of a request for a new jury panel is reviewed for abuse of discretion. State v. Stidolph, 263 N.W.2d 737, 738 (Iowa 1978). However, Jackson's constitutional claims regarding his right to an impartial jury are reviewed de novo. See State v. Chidester, 570 N.W.2d 78, 80 (Iowa 1997). Sufficiency-of-the-evidence claims are reviewed for correction of errors at law. State v. McCullah, 787 N.W.2d 90, 93 (Iowa 2010).

         III. Ineffective ...


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