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State v. Meyer

Court of Appeals of Iowa

May 1, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
GRIFFIN EDWARD MEYER, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Des Moines County, Emily S. Dean, District Associate Judge.

         A defendant appeals his conviction for being absent from custody.

          William Monroe, Burlington, for appellant.

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

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.

          Tabor, Judge.

         An outing to the neighborhood Buffalo Wild Wings and Walmart is not interchangeable with a road trip to Illinois. Griffin Meyer learned this lesson the hard way when he was convicted of being absent from custody for deviating from his approved furlough plan. Meyer appeals his serious misdemeanor conviction, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence and presenting several claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. Because the State offered nearly uncontested evidence supporting the elements of the offense, and Meyer cannot show prejudice from counsel's performance, we affirm.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         As a result of a felony conviction, in the fall of 2017, Meyer lived at the Burlington Men's Residential Correctional Facility, a halfway house. His probation officer would not permit contact between Meyer and his wife, Mari.[1] Despite Meyer's circumstances, Mari scheduled their son's baptism for October 8 at her church in Monmouth, Illinois.

         Because Meyer did not want to miss the baptism, on September 29, he asked his probation officer, Rob Humphrey, for permission to attend. Humphrey denied the request because Meyer's attendance would have resulted in contact with Mari. Despite the official denial, Meyer and Mari formed a plan to facilitate Meyer's presence at the baptism. On October 5, Meyer submitted a recreational furlough application, asking permission to walk to Buffalo Wild Wings and Walmart on October 8. The approved furlough application permitted Meyer to leave the facility at 12:30 p.m. and travel on foot to Buffalo Wild Wings and Walmart. It required his return by 4:30 p.m.

         On October 8, Meyer left the facility at 12:30 p.m. But he did not walk to either approved location. Instead, Mari picked him up by car a short distance from the facility. Meyer drove them to Monmouth, Illinois, for the baptism, which was scheduled to start at 1:15 p.m. The couple was running late, so Meyer pushed their speed to at least thirty-five miles per hour over the posted limit. An officer pulled them over and arrested Meyer after discovering he had an outstanding warrant for the crime of unlawful restraint in Henderson County, Illinois.[2] Meyer did not return to the Iowa facility by 4:30 p.m. as required and instead remained in various Illinois jails for several days.

         As a result of Meyer's deviation from the terms of his furlough, the State charged him with being absent from custody in violation of Iowa Code section 719.4(3) (2017). The matter proceeded to a jury trial, and Meyer stipulated he had been committed to the Burlington Men's Residential Correctional Facility, which was a community-based correctional facility. The jury found Meyer guilty after roughly twenty minutes of deliberation. Meyer now appeals his conviction.

         II. Scope and Standards of Review

         "We review challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence for correction of errors at law." State v. Tipton, 897 N.W.2d 653, 692 (Iowa 2017). "We will uphold a verdict if it is supported by substantial evidence." Id. Evidence is "substantial if, when viewed in the light most favorable to the State, it can convince a rational jury that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Sanford, 814 N.W.2d 611, 615 (Iowa 2012).

         If the record is too scanty to resolve claims of ineffective assistance, we preserve them for future postconviction-relief proceedings. State v. Wills, 696 N.W.2d 20, 22 (Iowa 2005). But if the record is sufficient to resolve ineffective-assistance ...


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