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State v. Davis

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 20, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
KEITH WILLIAM DAVIS JR., Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Monica Zrinyi Wittig, Judge.

         Keith Davis Jr. appeals his conviction, following a jury trial, of sexual abuse in the third degree. AFFIRMED.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Stephan J. Japuntich, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

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

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.

          MULLINS, Judge.

         Keith Davis Jr. appeals his conviction, following a jury trial, of one count of sexual abuse in the third degree. He contends his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to: (1) move for a dismissal on speedy-trial-violation grounds and (2) request jury instructions regarding contradictory statements by the complaining witness.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         On July 19, 2016, the State charged Davis by trial information with one count of sexual abuse in the third degree. Davis filed a written arraignment on July 22 and entered a plea of not guilty. His arraignment included his demand for a speedy trial under Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.33(2)(b).[1] The court arraigned Davis on July 25 and initially set trial for September 6. Davis subsequently filed a reverse-waiver motion to transfer the jurisdiction of the case to juvenile court.[2] In the court's order filed after the August 15 pretrial conference, the September trial date was confirmed and Davis's demand for a speedy trial was noted. However, after another pretrial conference in late August, the court continued the trial to October 11 at Davis's request. The court continued the trial again due to the court's consideration of the reverse-waiver motion, scheduling trial to commence in December. Davis filed a waiver of his right to a speedy trial under rule 2.33(2)(b) on October 6. His speedy-trial waiver reserved his speedy- trial rights under rule 2.33(2)(c). The court ultimately denied Davis's reverse-waiver motion.

         Davis requested continuances on December 1, January 26, 2017, [3] March 7, and April 7. Each motion to continue noted "the Defendant has waived speedy trial. The Defendant has executed a waiver of [his] rights under Rule" 2.33(2)(b). The court reset the trial date after each request. Defense counsel then requested the court set a plea-taking hearing in mid-May. This hearing was rescheduled after Davis filed a handwritten letter requesting a new attorney, citing the numerous continuances requested by defense counsel. However, on June 7, the court rendered the motion moot, as Davis rescinded his request for a new attorney. Davis then filed a handwritten motion to dismiss on June 14. In the motion, Davis claimed his attorney had not met several of the requirements of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct.[4] He also claimed a violation of his speedy trial rights under rule 2.33(2)(a).[5] The court initially scheduled a hearing on Davis's motion for dismissal and plea proceedings for June 30. However, defense counsel requested a continuance due to his unavailability. The court granted the continuance and rescheduled the hearing for July 31. On July 5, the court received a handwritten letter from Davis requesting his physical presence at the hearing scheduled for June 30 and also requested the hearing not be rescheduled. The court filed an order the same day reiterating the rescheduled hearing date of July 31, noting counsel's unavailability and Davis's speedy-trial waiver. The hearing was postponed again to August 23 after defense counsel appeared and indicated to the court that further plea discussions needed to be conducted.

         Thereafter, Davis sent another handwritten letter to the court, which the court received on August 22. In the letter, Davis requested the court to dismiss the case because defense counsel waived his speedy trial rights under rule 2.33(2)(c) without his consent or knowledge. The court held a hearing the next day as scheduled, during which it addressed Davis's letter. It denied his motion to dismiss, explaining that his counsel can waive his speedy-trial rights as part of defense strategy. Davis declined to enter a guilty plea and asserted his right to trial. Further, he reasserted his speedy-trial rights under rule 2.33(2)(b). The court scheduled his trial for October 24.

         Davis moved for a continuance on October 20, which the court granted. The motion noted that Davis had waived his speedy-trial rights under both rule 2.33(2)(b) and (c).[6] Davis filed another handwritten motion to dismiss on November 2.[7] On November 7, Davis filed another motion to continue and a speedy-trial waiver, which purported to waive his rights under rule 2.33(2)(b) but limited his waiver and required that he be tried by December 7. Trial was held on December 5 through 7. The jury returned a guilty verdict on one count of sexual abuse in the third degree on December 8. The court subsequently entered judgment and sentenced Davis to a term of incarceration not to exceed ten years. His sentence also included an order to register as a sex offender, placement on the sex-offender registry, and a lifetime special sentence pursuant to Iowa Code section 903B.1 (2016).

         II. Analysis

         Davis appeals his conviction, claiming his counsel rendered ineffective assistance in two respects. We review ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims de novo. State v. Harrison, 914 N.W.2d 178, 188 (Iowa 2018). "Generally, claims of ineffective assistance of counsel are preserved for postconviction relief proceedings." Id. at 206 (quoting State v. Soboroff, 798 N.W.2d 1, 8 (Iowa 2011)). This allows for the development of an adequate record and offers "the attorney charged with ineffective assistance with the 'opportunity to respond to defendant's claims.'" Id. (quoting Soboroff, 798 N.W.2d at ...


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