from the Iowa District Court for Cedar County, Stuart P.
Hayes appeals his convictions of multiple acts of child
endangerment resulting in serious injury and neglect of a
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Richard J. Bennett,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.
Hayes was convicted of multiple acts of child endangerment
resulting in serious injury, in violation of Iowa Code
section 726.6A (2016), and neglect of a dependent person, in
violation of Iowa Code section 726.3, and sentenced to an
indeterminate term of incarceration not to exceed sixty
years. The record shows Hayes physically abused his
two-month-old child. The medical evidence showed the child
had fractured ribs, a detached optic nerve, head trauma, and
brain injury. These injuries resulted in permanent medical
conditions, including limited cognitive ability, permanent
visual impairment, the inability to eat without the
assistance of a gastrointestinal tube, and, most likely, the
inability to walk. In this direct appeal, Hayes claims his
trial counsel provided constitutionally deficient
representation in failing to move for judgment of acquittal
on the charge of neglect of a dependent person and in failing
to challenge a jury instruction.
court reviews ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims de
novo. See State v. Straw, 709 N.W.2d 128, 133 (Iowa
2006). To succeed on an ineffective-assistance claim, "a
defendant must prove: (1) counsel failed to perform an
essential duty; and (2) prejudice resulted." State
v. Maxwell, 743 N.W.2d 185, 195 (Iowa 2008). An attorney
fails to perform an essential duty when he or she does not
meet "the standard of a reasonably competent
practitioner." State v. Clay, 824 N.W.2d 488,
495 (Iowa 2012) (quoting Maxwell, 743 N.W.2d at
195). "There is a presumption the attorney performed his
[or her] duties competently." Id.
"Prejudice exists where the claimant proves by a
reasonable probability that, but for the counsel's
unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would
have been different." Id. at 596 (internal
quotation marks omitted) (quoting Maxwell, 743
N.W.2d at 196). Failure to prove either element of
ineffective assistance defeats a defendant's claim.
See State v. Williams, 695 N.W.2d 23, 29 (Iowa
first address Hayes's claim his counsel provided
constitutionally deficient representation in failing to file
a motion for judgment of acquittal on the charge of neglect
of a dependent person. See State v. Schlitter, 881
N.W.2d 380, 391 (Iowa 2016) (resolving ineffective assistance
claim on direct appeal regarding motion for judgment of
acquittal because "no reasonable trial strategy could
permit a jury to consider a crime not supported by
substantial evidence"). A district court may only grant
a judgment of acquittal "if the evidence is insufficient
to sustain a conviction of [the charged] offense or
offenses." Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.19(8)(a). The district
court must deny a motion for a judgment of acquittal if
substantial evidence supports a guilty verdict. See State
v. Marlin, No. 01-0518, 2002 WL 987899, at *1 (Iowa Ct.
App. May 15, 2002). "Substantial evidence is evidence
upon which a rational finder of fact could find a defendant
guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." Id. In
reviewing a motion for judgment of acquittal, the district
court views the evidence in a light most favorable to the
State. See id.
parent commits neglect of a dependent person when the parent
"knowingly or recklessly exposes [his or her child] to a
hazard or danger against which [the child] cannot reasonably
be expected to protect [himself or herself]." Iowa Code
§ 726.3. The jury was instructed as follows:
[a] person is "reckless" or acts
"recklessly" when he willfully disregards the
safety of persons or property. It is more than a lack of
reasonable care which may cause unintentional injury.
Recklessness is conduct which is consciously done with
willful disregard of the consequences. For recklessness to
exist, the act must be highly dangerous. In addition, the
danger must be so obvious that the actor knows or should
reasonably foresee that harm will more than likely than not
result from the act. Though recklessness is willful, it not
intentional in the sense that harm is intended to result.
novo review, we conclude Hayes cannot establish prejudice
because there was substantial, overwhelming evidence of his
guilt and the result of the proceeding would not have been
different if counsel moved for judgment of acquittal. When
viewed in the light most favorable to the State, the evidence
showed Hayes failed to seek medical treatment for his child
in a timely manner after injuring him by slamming him
violently onto a bed. The injuries were severe and obvious.
After Hayes injured the child, the child began having
seizures and was unable to focus his eyes. Hayes admitted
that, after injuring the child, his immediate reaction was,
"Oh fuck. Because I thought I had hurt him."
Hayes did not seek immediate treatment for the child. Indeed,
when the child's mother discovered the child in distress
and sought to take the child to the hospital, Hayes
discouraged her from so doing. There is not a reasonable
probability of a different result if counsel had moved for
judgment of acquittal. See State v. Holbert, No.
82AP-568, 1983 WL 3355, at *5-6 (Ohio Ct. App. Feb 15, 1983)
(finding there was sufficient evidence to support
defendant's conviction of endangering a child when
defendant inflicted head injuries on the child and failed to
seek timely medical treatment for the child); Chiplin v.
State, No. 05-17-01052-CR, 2018 WL 6583025, at *6-7
(Tex. Crim. App. Dec. 14, 2018) (holding a jury could
rationally find the defendant acted recklessly when he
inflicted head injuries on a child but delayed treatment in
order to see if the child would get better).
address Hayes's contention that his counsel should have
objected to Jury Instruction No. ...