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Adams v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 11, 2019

EDDIE ADAMS, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Thomas A. Bitter, Judge.

         Eddie Adams appeals from an order denying him postconviction relief.

          Joey T. Hoover of Hoover Law Firm P.L.L.C., Epworth, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Darrel Mullins, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

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

          DOYLE, Judge.

         In this postconviction-relief (PCR) appeal, Eddie Adams contends his trial counsel and PCR counsel were ineffective. After a de novo review, see Lamasters v. State, 821 N.W.2d 856, 862 (Iowa 2012), we find no merit to Adams's arguments. We affirm the PCR court's order denying Adams relief.

         A jury found Adams guilty of first-degree robbery, possession of an illegal firearm, and possession of a firearm as a felon. State v. Adams, No.11-1210, 2013 WL 4502303, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Aug. 21, 2013). We affirmed his judgment and sentence. Id. at *7. Adams applied for PCR claiming his trial counsel was ineffective in many ways, including failure to object to the trial court's Allen charge[1]to the jury and failure to have his DNA expert conduct her own analysis of the evidence.

         In addressing the DNA expert issue, the PCR court determined,

Adams claims his DNA expert should have conducted his/her own analysis of the evidence. The opinion from the Court of Appeals mentions very briefly "the prosecutor's comment on the fact that his (Adams) DNA expert did not independently test the materials that the State's expert tested." On appeal, this issue was raised as an allegation of prosecutorial misconduct. [Trial counsel] says he hired a DNA expert from St. Louis. No further evidence was presented to this court regarding the DNA issue, and whether independent testing would have made any difference. Based upon the record, it would be pure speculation for this court to assume that either the testing by the State's expert was inaccurate or incorrect, or that independent testing by Adams's expert would have revealed any different findings.

         The PCR court did not address the Allen charge issue. Adams's PCR counsel did not ask the court to expand its order. Adams appeals the court's denial of his PCR application.[2]

         To succeed on an ineffective-assistance claim, a PCR applicant must establish that counsel breached a duty and prejudice resulted. See Lamasters, 821 N.W.2d at 866. We may affirm a ruling rejecting an ineffective-assistance claim if either element is lacking. See id.

         Adams first contends his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to have his DNA expert independently test the evidence. To meet the prejudice prong of ineffective assistance of counsel one must show "that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different." Id. (citation omitted). Asserting the error "conceivably could have influenced the outcome" of the proceeding is not enough. Id. (citation omitted); see also Dunbar v. State, 515 N.W.2d 12, 15 (Iowa 1994) (claiming defense counsel did not fully investigate a case requires an applicant to state what an investigation would have revealed or how anything discovered would have affected the result of the trial); Grayson v. State, No.17-0919, 2018 WL 347552, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Jan. 10, 2018) ("Mere speculation as to the existence of exculpatory evidence is insufficient to show such evidence probably would have changed the outcome of trial."). Adams does not even suggest more DNA testing of the evidence would have changed the outcome of his criminal trial. Rather, he asserts "[b]y the time the PCR came around the items were no longer around to test," so we should overrule precedent and allow him a new trial so he can argue spoliation to the jury. We decline to do so.

         His allegation that the evidence was no longer around to test is not supported by a reference to the record. See Iowa R. App. P. 6.903(2)(g)(3) (requiring references to the pertinent parts of the record in accordance with rule 6.904(4)). We need not search a record to verify unreferenced facts. See Channon v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 629 N.W.2d 835, 866 (Iowa 2001). Even so, we found nothing in our review of the record to support Adams's allegation the items were unavailable for testing at the time of the PCR proceedings. But even if the items were unavailable for testing, Adams fails to show that the State deliberately destroyed the evidence-a requirement that he ...


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