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State v. Draine

Supreme Court of Iowa

December 6, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Appellee,

         On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mark D. Cleve (motion for competency evaluation and plea) and Henry W. Latham II (motion in arrest of judgment), Judges.

         A defendant appeals his conviction for willful injury resulting in serious injury, in violation of Iowa Code section 708.4(1).

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, (until withdrawal), and Melinda J. Nye, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Tyler J. Buller, Assistant Attorney General, Michael J. Walton, County Attorney, and Andrea L. Glasgow and Caleb J. Copley, Assistant County Attorneys, for appellee.

          WIGGINS, Chief Justice.

         The State charged Darreon Draine with willful injury resulting in serious injury, in violation of Iowa Code section 708.4(1) (2018). He was sixteen years old at the time he allegedly committed the crime. His counsel filed a reverse-waiver motion requesting the district court transfer the case to the juvenile court. The district court denied the reverse-waiver motion. Counsel then moved the court to suspend the proceedings and order a competency evaluation for Draine. The court also denied this motion. Draine decided to plead guilty. After entry of his plea, Draine filed a timely motion in arrest of judgment. The court denied the motion in arrest of judgment and sentenced Draine. Draine filed his notice of appeal on July 18, 2018.

         Draine raises three issues on appeal. First, he claims the district court erred in denying his request for a competency evaluation shortly after it denied his reverse-waiver motion. Second, he argues the court erred in overruling his motion in arrest of judgment. Finally, he argues the court should have ordered a competency evaluation following his motion in arrest of judgment.

         We transferred the appeal to the court of appeals. It affirmed Draine's conviction on May 15, 2019. The court of appeals found the district court did not err in not ordering an initial competency hearing. It also found "Draine [did] not identify any specific facts upon which the court should have relied to hold a preliminary hearing and find probable cause to order a competency evaluation following the motion in arrest of judgment." Finally, it found the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Draine's motion in arrest of judgment. Draine asked for further review on May 31, 2019, which we granted on June 18, 2019.

         In the 2019 legislative session, the general assembly amended Iowa Code section 814.6(1) (2019). The amendment denies a defendant the right of appeal from a guilty plea, except for a guilty plea to a class "A" felony or in a case where a defendant establishes good cause. 2019 Iowa Acts ch. 140, § 28 (to be codified at Iowa Code § 814.6(1)(a)(3) (2020)). The amendment's effective date was July 1, 2019. See Iowa Code § 3.7(1) (2019). The State in its supplemental brief argues we should apply the amendment retroactively. Thus, the State contends, we have no jurisdiction of the appeal regarding Draine's guilty plea or the district court's denial of Draine's motion in arrest of judgment under this amendment.

         We addressed this jurisdictional issue in State v. Macke, 933 N.W.2d. 226, 235 (Iowa 2019). There we held the amendment to section 814.6(1) is not retroactive and the statutes controlling appeals are those that were in effect at the time the judgment or order appealed from was rendered. Id. Therefore, we do have jurisdiction of this appeal.

         As to the merits of the appeal, when reviewing an application for further review, we retain discretion to review all the issues raised on appeal or in the application for further review, or only a portion thereof. Gits Mfg. Co. v. Frank, 855 N.W.2d 195, 197 (Iowa 2014). In our discretion, we choose to review only the jurisdictional issue raised by the State on further review. Accordingly, the court of appeals decision stands as the final decision as to Draine's claims the district court erred in failing to order a competency evaluation prior to Draine's guilty plea and at or near the time Draine filed his motion in arrest of judgment. The court of appeals decision also stands as the final decision regarding Draine's claim the district court abused its discretion when it denied his motion in arrest of judgment. Consequently, we affirm the district court's judgment in this matter.


          Waterman, Mansfield, and Christensen, JJ., join this opinion. Mansfield, J., files a concurring opinion in which Waterman and Christensen, JJ., join. Appel, J., files a dissenting opinion. McDonald, J., takes no part.

          MANSFIELD, Justice (concurring specially).

         I join the majority opinion. I write separately to explain briefly why I agree with the determinations of the district court and the court of appeals that did not find probable cause to believe Darreon Draine was "suffering from a mental disorder which prevent[ed] the defendant from appreciating the charge, understanding the proceedings, or assisting effectively in the defense." Iowa Code § 812.3(1) (2018). To be sure, the dissent raises some legitimate overall concerns about juveniles and their competency to stand trial. However, I am not convinced they are manifested in this particular case.

         A critical point is that Draine had been seen repeatedly over the years by mental health professionals, partly at the insistence of his mother. They had diagnosed his issues as behavioral. This is not a situation of a young man falling through the cracks and not receiving diagnosis or treatment. In December 2017, a detailed evaluation by a psychiatrist concluded that Draine exhibited "ADHD Combined type," "Conduct Disorder Childhood-Onset," "Nonadherence to Medical Treatment," "Oppositional Defiant Disorder," and "Intellectual Disability Mild." In fact, an earlier note had stated, "The doctors think he is functioning higher than what his IQ shows." On January 9, 2018, the same psychiatrist followed up with the Iowa Department of Human Services and gave the following verbal recommendation:

[B]ecause this is primarily behaviors he really should go into the juvenile system and be held accountable for these behaviors as medicines are not a fix . . . [H]e has been given every opportunity at every level to work on these behaviors and has chosen not to do so.

         Two weeks later, Draine beat up a thirty-year-old staff member at his latest placement, giving him a concussion along with other cranial and facial injuries and leading to the criminal charge in this case.

         Thus, when Draine's attorney filed his April 2018 motion for competency evaluation in the present case, a psychiatric evaluation of Draine had just occurred four months earlier. This psychiatrist, like other mental health professionals before him, had concluded that Draine's issues were mainly behavioral. The district court reviewed these records and discussed them when it denied Draine's motion for competency evaluation.

         Furthermore, while attorney representations to the court should always be taken seriously, the district court here did exactly that. Draine's attorney made three points at the hearing. First, he noted that in their most recent meeting, Draine had "misidentified [him] as his juvenile court attorney as opposed to his District Court attorney initially." This strikes me as unexceptional for a person who is enmeshed in the legal system and has different appointed counsel serving different roles. Second, the attorney said that after he "got through what [he] wanted to get through fairly quickly, probably in about 20 minutes or so," and as he was getting ready to leave, Draine threatened him "first for talking with him and then for looking at him." Third, the attorney relayed secondhand reports of Draine urinating all over his jail cell and "engag[ing] in continuous threatening behavior at the jail." The district court specifically discussed the second and third representations in its ruling on Draine's motion, finding them characteristic of the previously diagnosed behavioral issues.

         We also have transcripts of the guilty plea and sentencing proceedings. These support the conclusions of the district court and the court of appeals that Draine understood the proceedings against him and his issues were behavioral. Notably, at the guilty plea hearing, Draine and his counsel made a clarification about Draine not having struck the victim with a radio:

MR. TUPPER: Your Honor, just for clarity of the record, Mr. Draine and I had discussed this matter multiple times previously. He does indicate that the portion of the Minutes of Testimony in the police reports where it is said he struck Mr. White with a radio -- he indicates that didn't happen, but he does admit the other portions of the assault where he was striking Mr. White with his fist. So there is a portion of the Minutes that he does disagree with, and I just wanted to clarify that.
THE COURT: Very well.
MR. TUPPER: Do you agree with that?

         Then, at sentencing, Draine made the same clarification without the assistance of counsel:

I shouldn't go like to prison or nothing, because I didn't hit the dude with a radio, I hit him with my closed fist. So I shouldn't go to prison or Eldora or anything like that. I should be on probation here with my mom, you know, my family. So that's all I got.

         Accordingly, not only did Draine understand the charges against him, he understood them well enough to insist on making a factual clarification and argue why it should mitigate his punishment.

         State v. Einfeldt is a different case. See 914 N.W.2d 773 (Iowa 2018). There, the defendant had a prior diagnosis of mental illness and was engaging in bizarre courtroom behavior. See id. at 781-83. State v. Kempf is also a different case. See 282 N.W.2d 704 (Iowa 1979). There, the sixteen-year-old defendant had a "limited grasp of reality," was allowed to plead guilty against his attorney's recommendation, and was sent for a psychiatric evaluation following the guilty plea that the district court disregarded. See id. at 707-10.

         For the foregoing reasons, I specially concur.

          Waterman and Christensen, JJ., join this special concurrence.

          APPEL, Justice (dissenting).

         Thirty years ago, the commentary to the ABA Criminal Justice Mental Health Standards declared that "present mental incompetency . . . is the single most important issue in the criminal mental health field." ABA Criminal Justice Mental Health Standards, standard 7-4.1 cmt. intro., at 168 (Am. Bar Ass'n 1989). In my view, this comment is as true today as when it was first made. The issue of adjudicative competence in this case demands thorough and careful consideration.

         After examining the record, I conclude the district court did not properly consider the cumulative impact of factors in the record related to the competence of the defendant: intellectual disability reflected in an IQ of 60, a history of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), the age of the defendant and the impact of age on psychological development, and the professional statement of counsel regarding his ability to communicate with the defendant. When these factors are ...

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