from the Iowa District Court for Franklin County, Peter B.
Newell, District Associate Judge.
defendant appeals from his conviction of forgery, a class
C. Abbott of Abbott Law Office, P.C., Waterloo, for
appellant. Jonathan Elphic, Fort Dodge, pro se.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Martha E. Trout, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and May, JJ.
POTTERFIELD, Presiding Judge.
Elphic appeals from his conviction for forgery, a class
"D" felony. Elphic maintains the district court
violated his right to due process and abused its discretion
when it allowed the State to reopen the record after the
prosecutor indicated the State rested its case and Elphic
moved for a judgment of acquittal based on insufficient
evidence. Elphic asserts his conviction should be
vacated for insufficient evidence.
Background Facts and Proceedings.
was charged by trial information with one count of forgery.
The trial information identified Ana Palma Sierra as the
person whose checks Elphic allegedly presented to various
stores to purchase items and obtain cash.
entered a plea of not guilty, and a jury trial was scheduled
to take place in February 2018.
January 29, the State filed an application for the
appointment of a court interpreter, indicating an oral
language interpreter was needed to interpret the testimony of
its witness, Palma Sierra, at the upcoming trial on February
8. The next day, the court granted the application and
appointed an interpreter for the proceedings.
jury trial took place on February 8. The State presented
evidence that Officer Dave Kelley interacted with Elphic at
the local police station on October 19, 2017, in an unrelated
matter. As part of the interaction, Officer Kelley searched
Elphic's pockets. When the officer did so, he found two
checks in the name of Palma Sierra. The checks were blank
other than the signature line, which contained
"APS" signed on both. A few weeks later, Palma
Sierra went to the police department and gave officers
notifications of insufficient checks she had received from
the corporate headquarters of Kwik Star, Casey's, and
Dollar General. Using the notifications, Officer Kelley
contacted the local stores at which the checks were presented
to obtain any surveillance video that may exist involving the
State introduced into evidence and played for the jury three
videos of transactions from the dates and times Palma
Sierra's checks were presented; two of the three store
clerks who accepted the checks identified Elphic as the
person in the video presenting the check in question.
the testimony of the third store clerk, the court asked the
prosecutor if he had another witness, and the prosecutor
responded: "The States rests, Your Honor." The
court then indicated it was taking a recess, and the jury
left the courtroom. Elphic moved for a judgment of acquittal,
arguing "the State did not present any evidence that Mr.
Elphic did not have permission to use the checks of Ms. Ana
Palma Sierra." When the court gave the prosecutor a
chance to respond, he stated: "Your Honor, um, I
subpoenaed a witness who is not here ...