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Blomdahl v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 5, 2019

ADAM BLOMDAHL, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Pottawattamie County, Jeffrey L. Larson, Judge.

         Adam Blomdahl appeals from the denial of his application for postconviction relief. AFFIRMED.

          Marti D. Nerenstone, Council Bluffs, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Timothy M. Hau, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

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

          POTTERFIELD, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Adam Blomdahl appeals from the denial of his application for postconviction relief (PCR). On our de novo review, we conclude Blomdahl's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel fail and, therefore, affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         We previously summarized the facts leading to Blomdahl's conviction for prostitution. State v. Blomdahl, No. 13-0521, 2014 WL 1234214, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Mar. 26, 2014). While Blomdahl's defense at trial was that he was simply looking for companionship and made no offer of money in exchange for sex, the evidence supported the following findings:

In October 2012, Blomdahl responded to an escort ad placed on a website by the Council Bluffs Police Department as part of a sting operation. He called the number listed and spoke to a law enforcement officer who was acting as an escort named "Stacy." During the phone conversation, Blomdahl set up a half-hour appointment for the listed price of $150 and specified the sex acts he wanted to perform during the appointment. The next day, he met "Stacy" at a hotel room and again stated the sex acts he wanted to engage in. Blomdahl patted his pocket to indicate he had money and showed some of it.

Id. His conviction was upheld on appeal. Id. at *2.

         Blomdahl then filed a PCR application, asserting trial counsel was ineffective in: (1) orally waiving Blomdahl's ninety-day speedy-trial right and exceeded his authority in doing so; (2) failing to conduct reasonable and necessary pretrial investigation; (3) failing to seek exclusion of trial exhibit 4 "(backpage.com escort listings from January 4-February 1, 2013) and related testimony and closing arguments about the exhibit for one or more of the following reasons: hearsay; improper foundation; irrelevant and immaterial to the incident on October 10, 2012; unduly prejudicial; or improper propensity evidence"; (4) failing to seek exclusion of trial exhibit 10 (folder with backpage.com printouts from September-October 2012 and mapping) as it was seized during an improper search of his vehicle; (5) failing to seek exclusion of data seized from his cellphone because the search warrant was "based solely on an officer's unsigned affidavit and . . . referenced an incident on December 10, 2012"; (6) failing to object to trial exhibit 13 on grounds of hearsay, improper foundation, improper propensity evidence, and derivative evidence from an illegally issued search warrant for his cellphone; (7) failing to object on grounds the opinions lacked proper foundation to opinion testimony by Detective Greg Chase during direct examination by the State and in closing arguments concerning his expert opinions about what "incall" means in prostitution, the going rates for prostitutes, what websites "johns" use looking for prostitutes, differences between dating and escort websites, and that the undercover agent developed probable cause for a prostitution crime; (8) "failing to object to testimonial evidence at trial from Detective Greg Chase during re-direct examination by the State and in closing arguments concerning 'coded talk' used by prostitutes as beyond the scope of cross-examination and for lack of foundation for expert opinion"; (9) failing to object on grounds of lack of foundation to testimony by Special Agent Ashley Jones ("Stacy") concerning opinions as to what "incall" and "outcall" mean in prostitution; (10) "failing to object to testimonial evidence at trial from Detective Brian Hamilton and in closing arguments concerning his expert opinions about 'code talk' or 'code language' used in prostitution"; (11) failing to object to testimony of Detective Brian Hamilton during direct examination and noted in closing arguments that Blomdahl "did not wish to speak with you during his interview" as a comment on the exercise of his right to remain silent; (12) stating in opening Blomdahl would testify and then not presenting his testimony; (13) failing to properly advise him concerning the no-inference-of-guilt jury instruction and ensuring there was a record on Blomdahl's decision; (14) failing to object to the prosecutor's statement in closing that the defendant's presumption of innocence is gone; and (15) failing to file and pursue an entrapment defense. He also asserted trial counsel's failings resulted in cumulative and structural error and appellate counsel was ineffective in not raising the issues.

         The PCR court entered a ruling in which the court summarized Blomdahl's claims, [1] addressed the issues, and denied relief. With respect to Blomdahl's claim that counsel was ineffective in waiving his speedy-trial rights, the PCR court noted Blomdahl appeared in person and with his attorney on January 15, 2013, and waived the right to speedy trial. Further, even if defense counsel waived his right, Iowa law recognizes defense counsel has the authority to waive the right for the client.

         The court found the seizure of Blomdahl's car was invalid, counsel should have filed a motion to suppress, and the evidence obtained searching the vehicle should not have been presented at trial. However, the PCR court ruled Blomdahl failed to prove the result of the trial would have been different had the advertisements seized from Blomdahl's car not been entered into evidence because the State's case consisted of ...


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