308 N.W.2d 11 (Iowa 1981), 64689, Snethen v. State

Docket Nº:64689.
Citation:308 N.W.2d 11
Party Name:Daniel SNETHEN, Appellant, v. STATE of Iowa, Appellee.
Case Date:July 15, 1981
Court:Supreme Court of Iowa

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308 N.W.2d 11 (Iowa 1981)

Daniel SNETHEN, Appellant,


STATE of Iowa, Appellee.

No. 64689.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

July 15, 1981

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James Cleary, Des Moines, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Atty. Gen., Shirley Ann Steffe, Asst. Atty. Gen., Dan Johnston, Polk County Atty., and Carol Ann Nix, Asst. Polk County Atty., for appellee.


SCHULTZ, Justice.

Petitioner Daniel Snethen appeals from the denial of an application for postconviction relief challenging his conviction of first-degree murder. Snethen alleges that the trial court erred in finding that he had not proved his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The ineffective assistance of counsel claim is premised on trial counsel's failure to object to rebuttal expert testimony of Dr. Paul Loeffelholz, a psychiatrist who examined Snethen under court order. Snethen contends the testimony was objectionable because it (1) violated the attorney-client privilege and infringed upon his right to assistance of counsel, and (2) violated the physician-patient privilege. We affirm the trial court.

On October 23, 1974, Snethen was indicted by a Polk County Grand Jury for the murder of Timothy Hawbaker. On November 14, 1974, the trial court granted Snethen's application for psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he was competent to stand trial and whether he was insane at the time of his alleged participation in the homicide. Pursuant to court order, Snethen was admitted to the Iowa Security Medical Facility at Oakdale for evaluation. The order required that the court be provided with a written report of such evaluation. In a report made on January 9, 1975, Dr. Loeffelholz expressed the opinion that Snethen was competent to participate in the pending judicial proceedings.

On January 30, 1975, however, a jury found Snethen incompetent to stand trial. Pursuant to section 783.3, The Code 1973, the trial court found that discharge would endanger public peace and safety and ordered Snethen recommitted to the Oakdale facility until such time as he was found competent to stand trial. Snethen remained at Oakdale until Dr. Loeffelholz made a second report to the court, again opining that Snethen was competent to stand trial.

Prior to the scheduled competency trial Snethen filed a motion for a continuance and appointment of an impartial psychiatrist to make an independent evaluation of his competency to stand trial. With the agreement of Snethen's counsel, the trial court ordered an evaluation by Dr. John Garfield, a clinical psychologist. On May 21, 1975, a jury found Snethen competent to stand trial.

Prior to trial Snethen filed notice of his intention to rely on the defense of insanity. The notice listed Dr. Garfield as an expert witness who was intended to be called on

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Snethen's behalf. The State then filed notice of its intention to call rebuttal witnesses, including Dr. Loeffelholz.

At trial Dr. Garfield testified concerning the insanity defense, concluding that Snethen suffered from a mental disorder described as paranoid delusional beliefs or a psychotic paranoid state. Dr. Loeffelholz, called as a rebuttal witness for the State, disputed Dr. Garfield's opinions and testified as to conversations he had with, and statements made by, Snethen on the two occasions he was committed to the Oakdale facility. Although objections were made to part of Dr. Loeffelholz's testimony, no objections were made on the basis of either the attorney-client or physician-patient privileges.

Snethen was subsequently found guilty of murder in the first degree in violation of sections 690.1-.2, The Code 1973. His conviction and sentence were affirmed by this court in State v. Snethen, 245 N.W.2d 308 (Iowa 1976). He later filed a pro se application for postconviction relief, and new counsel was appointed for the postconviction proceeding. Present counsel was thereafter appointed for the purpose of this appeal.

I. General principles. In a postconviction proceeding the petitioner has the burden of proof to...

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