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Trott v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 20, 2019

COREY ALLEN TROTT, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Calhoun County, William C. Ostlund, Judge.

         Applicant appeals his denial for postconviction relief. AFFIRMED.

          Joel Baxter of Wild, Baxter & Sand, PC, Guthrie Center, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kyle Hanson, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Mullins, JJ.

          VOGEL, Chief Judge.

         Corey Trott appeals the denial of his application for postconviction relief (PCR). He raises multiple ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims against his trial counsel, appellate counsel, and PCR counsel. In addition, Trott's pro se brief raises various other issues. We affirm the denial of PCR and preserve some of the ineffective-assistance claims for further postconviction proceedings.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         On September 8, 2013, Trott allegedly assaulted his mother at his home. Officers arrived to the home and when they tried to go into the residence, Trott shot at and killed one officer. In September 2014, Trott was found guilty of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. Trott appealed his conviction to our court where he asserted his right to counsel was violated and argued the motion to suppress his statements made to law enforcement should have been granted. State v. Trott, No. 14-1608, 2015 WL 9450670, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Dec. 23, 2015). We affirmed the conviction and concluded Trott failed to preserve the right-to-counsel issue. Id. at *8. We further stated, "Trott's right to remain silent was scrupulously honored and he knowingly and voluntarily waived the right [to remain silent]." Id.

         Trott then filed an application for PCR in December 2016. A hearing was held on January 4, 2018. The district court denied Trott's application on March 7, 2018. Trott appeals.

         II. Standard of Review

         "A claim of ineffective assistance of counsel requires a de novo review because the claim is derived from the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution." Bowman v. State, 710 N.W.2d 200, 204 (Iowa 2006). To prevail on an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim, the claimant must show counsel failed to perform an essential duty and such failure resulted in prejudice. State v. Straw, 709 N.W.2d 128, 133 (Iowa 2006) (citing Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-88 (1984)). Both must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. Ledezma v. State, 626 N.W.2d 134, 142 (Iowa 2001).

         III. Ineffective Assistance by Trial Counsel During Jury Selection

         Trott first asserts his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance when trial counsel allowed two allegedly biased jurors to remain on the jury. The State argues trial counsel had no duty to make challenges for cause because neither juror had a fixed opinion. Also, the State argues Trott cannot establish prejudice because he does not show how the verdict would change with two different jurors.

         Trott argues the two jurors were biased because each were related to a law enforcement officer. One juror's brother was a deputy sheriff, so ...


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