State Of Iowa v. Hanes, No. 08-1231.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtSTREIT, Justice.
Citation790 N.W.2d 545
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Robert L. HANES, Appellant.
Decision Date12 November 2010
Docket NumberNo. 08-1231.

790 N.W.2d 545

STATE of Iowa, Appellee,
v.
Robert L. HANES, Appellant.

No. 08-1231.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Nov. 12, 2010.


790 N.W.2d 546

COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED.

790 N.W.2d 547

Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Martha J. Lucey, Assistant State Appellate Defender, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Darrel L. Mullins and Cristen Douglass (until withdrawal) and then Elisabeth Reynoldson, Assistant Attorneys General, Thomas J. Ferguson, County Attorney, and Kim Griffith, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

790 N.W.2d 548

STREIT, Justice.

Robert Hanes was convicted by a jury of willful injury causing serious injury. At trial, the jury was instructed that potential penalties would include fines; community service; supervised or unsupervised probation; placement in a residential, correctional, or violator facility; or confinement in a county jail or prison. The jury instruction was improper and prejudiced Hanes. We reverse and remand.

I. Background Facts and Prior Proceedings.

Robert Hanes was convicted after a jury trial of willful injury causing serious injury in violation of Iowa Code section 708.4(1) (2005). The verdict is based on an incident between Hanes and Nathanial Taylor on the morning of April 28, 2007. According to Taylor, he was walking to a cigar store to redeem bottles and cans. Taylor claims one week earlier Hanes had given him $2.25 to purchase gizzards for Hanes, and Taylor did not purchase the gizzards or return the money. Hanes asked about the money and was angry and yelling. Taylor offered Hanes his cans, but Hanes pulled out a knife and said “I'm going to kill you” and “stabbed [Taylor] in the face.” Taylor then grabbed Hanes's hand holding the knife, hit Hanes in the head, and kicked Hanes until Hanes said “stop.” Hanes picked up a bottle of whiskey and walked into the park.

Hanes claimed he did not know Taylor and encountered him while walking home. Hanes testified Taylor struck him with the bag of cans and bottles, and Hanes struck back. Hanes testified he was defending himself, and he had previous boxing experience.

Hanes filed a direct appeal and alleged a number of trial errors. First, Hanes complains a jury instruction improperly and incorrectly referenced potential penalties. Second, Hanes argues the district court improperly excluded hearsay testimony that should have been admitted under the exception for statements made for purposes of medical diagnosis. The State argues this issue was not preserved.

Third, Hanes raises a number of issues through the mechanism of ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel did not object to certain matters. Hanes complains his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the instruction regarding serious injury and for failing to object to the instruction regarding specific intent. Hanes raises ten additional issues pro se, including an argument that he was prejudiced by the prosecuting attorney's statement that the defense could have called additional witnesses if they had any information helpful to the defense. The court of appeals affirmed the conviction. Hanes sought further review.

II. Scope of Review.

This court reviews challenges to jury instructions for correction of errors at law. Boyle v. Alum-Line, Inc., 710 N.W.2d 741, 748 (Iowa 2006). Our review is to determine whether the challenged instruction accurately states the law and is supported by substantial evidence. State v. Predka, 555 N.W.2d 202, 204 (Iowa 1996). Error in a particular instruction does not require reversal unless the error was prejudicial to the complaining party. State v. Spates, 779 N.W.2d 770, 775 (Iowa 2010). When an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim is raised on direct appeal, we may choose to reach the issue if the record is adequate to decide the claim, or we may choose to preserve the claim for postconviction proceedings. State v. Straw, 709 N.W.2d 128, 133 (Iowa 2006).

III. Merits.

A. Jury Instruction Regarding Punishment. The district court gave a

790 N.W.2d 549

jury instruction regarding penalty-instruction number one-which stated:

The duty of the jury is to determine if the defendant is guilty or not guilty.

In the event of a guilty verdict, you have nothing to do with punishment.

Criminal offenses may be punished by fines or community service; by supervised or unsupervised probation; by placement in a residential, correctional or violator facility; or by confinement in a county jail or prison; depending on the circumstances of the case. Accordingly, you may neither speculate on what any punishment in this case might be nor let it influence your verdict.

The district court explained the penalty instruction as follows:

And it's the stock instruction except that the second-or the last paragraph is one that I've added and have been using because of questions that have come up from people during jury selection, whether they're concerned about punishment in one case or another. Frequently it comes up with drug crimes where people are concerned about issues and disparity in sentencing and so forth. But I think it's just emphasizing to the jury that they shouldn't speculate on any possible punishments.

Defense counsel objected to the instruction, arguing the instruction invites speculation on the part of the jury. Defense counsel also noted that community service, probation, or placement in a residential facility are not sentencing options for a forcible felony. The district court responded:

Well that's why I put in the language depending on the circumstances of the case because that is absolutely right what you said in forcible felonies, there isn't community service and that's one of those cases. And so I am going to leave it in. I don't think it's a misstatement of the law. And I disagree with you that it causes speculation. It would be fruitless to speculate in cases like that. So the objection is overruled.

It is well-settled that juries should not be instructed regarding the statutory penalty for the charged offenses. See State v. Purcell, 195 Iowa 272, 274, 191 N.W. 849, 850 (1923) (“The trial court should in all criminal cases refrain from instructing the jury with regard to the punishment provided by statute for the crime with which a defendant is charged.”); State v. O'Meara, 190 Iowa 613, 625-26, 177 N.W. 563, 569 (1920) (“With the penalty to be imposed, the jury had no concern, and might not take the punishment to be inflicted into account, in passing on the issue as to the guilt or innocence of the accused.”); State v. Hatter, 381 N.W.2d 370, 375 (Iowa Ct.App.1985). As the court of appeals has explained, “a trial has one purpose-to seek the truth,” and “[p]enalties have nothing to do with the factual determination that a defendant did or did not commit a crime.” Hatter, 381 N.W.2d at 375. It is the legislature, and not the jury, that determines the appropriate penalty for the crime. Id. “[K]nowledge of the penalty would only serve to confuse and distract the jury from its unique and important judicial function.” Id.

The State argues the penalty instruction is consistent with the rule prohibiting jury instruction on punishment because it “merely instructed the jury that penalties for crimes in general range from fines to imprisonment.” We do not find this logic persuasive. The issue of punishment is not for the jury to consider or speculate about and knowledge about punishment can serve to confuse or distract the jury. Id. A generalized explanation of potential penalties wades into a topic

790 N.W.2d 550

about which the “ ‘jury had no concern.’ ” Purcell, 195 Iowa at 274, 191 N.W. at 850 (quoting O'Meara, 190 Iowa at 625-26, 177 N.W. at 569). Therefore, we hold the penalty instruction was improper.

The State argues even if the jury instruction was improper, reversal is not warranted under harmless-error analysis because Hanes was not prejudiced. We will not reverse unless an error in giving a particular instruction was prejudicial to the complaining party. Spates, 779 N.W.2d at 775. Prior case law regarding the showing required to establish prejudice has been, at times, contradictory. Compare State v. Piper, 663 N.W.2d 894, 914 (Iowa 2003) (“Any error with respect to the court's instruction of the jury will not support reversal unless the defendant shows prejudice.”), with State v. Davis, 228 N.W.2d 67, 73 (Iowa 1975) (“Error in instructing the jury is presumed prejudicial unless the contrary appears beyond a reasonable doubt from a review of the whole case.”).

The requirement that a jury instruction error result in prejudice before a conviction will be reversed mirrors the harmless-error analysis this court undertakes for any alleged error in a criminal trial. See State v. Jordan, 779 N.W.2d 751, 756 (Iowa 2010). This court has established standards for conducting harmless-error analysis based on whether the alleged error is of a constitutional magnitude. When an error is of a constitutional dimension, the State must show beyond a reasonable doubt the error did not result in prejudice. State v. Traywick, 468 N.W.2d 452, 455 (Iowa 1991). Courts have applied this standard to errors of a constitutional dimension in jury instructions. 1 See Rose v. Clark, 478 U.S. 570, 583, 106 S.Ct. 3101, 3109, 92 L.Ed.2d 460, 474 (1986) (holding the question for constitutional errors is whether “ ‘on the whole record ... the error ... [is] harmless beyond a reasonable doubt’ ” (quoting United States v. Hasting, 461 U.S. 499, 510, 103 S.Ct. 1974, 1981, 76 L.Ed.2d 96, 107 (1983) (alteration in original))); see also State v. Schuler, 774 N.W.2d 294, 299-300 (Iowa 2009) (applying the standard that “prejudice is presumed but may be overcome upon a showing beyond a reasonable doubt that the error was harmless” to reverse and noting but not deciding whether a jury instruction error regarding the elements of an offense requires per se reversal).

Similarly, the proper harmless-error analysis for errors in jury...

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127 practice notes
  • Goodwin v. Iowa Dist. Court, No. 18-0737
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 20, 2019
    ...principles exist, but attempt to evade them by citing State v. Piper, 663 N.W.2d 894, 913-14 (Iowa 2003), overruled by State v. Hanes, 790 N.W.2d 545, 551 (Iowa 2010), and Conkey v. Hoak Motors, Inc., 637 N.W.2d 170, 173 (Iowa 2001). Neither of these cases involve the proper approach to a p......
  • State v. Wright, No. 19-0180
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 18, 2021
    ...private, curtilage vis-a-vis open area) but rather on existence of a reasonable expectation of privacy."), overruled by State v. Hanes, 790 N.W.2d 545 (Iowa 2010). Despite the incongruence with our own precedents, we concluded we had "an interest in harmonizing our constitutional decisions ......
  • State v. Thompson, No. 19-1259
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 5, 2021
    ...arguments the court deemed potentially relevant—and potentially useful —to its decision-making process. See, e.g. , State v. Hanes , 790 N.W.2d 545, 556–57 (Iowa 2010) (evaluating, 954 N.W.2d 423 and finding merit in, arguments offered in the defendant's pro se supplemental brief). I can't ......
  • State v. Lowe, No. 10–1454.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • March 15, 2012
    ...certainly has some expectation of privacy. State v. Davis, 228 N.W.2d 67, 72 (Iowa 1975), overruled on other grounds by State v. Hanes, 790 N.W.2d 545, 550 & n. 1 (Iowa 2010). However, a search only occurs if there is a violation of an expectation of privacy “that society considers reasonab......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
127 cases
  • Goodwin v. Iowa Dist. Court, No. 18-0737
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 20, 2019
    ...principles exist, but attempt to evade them by citing State v. Piper, 663 N.W.2d 894, 913-14 (Iowa 2003), overruled by State v. Hanes, 790 N.W.2d 545, 551 (Iowa 2010), and Conkey v. Hoak Motors, Inc., 637 N.W.2d 170, 173 (Iowa 2001). Neither of these cases involve the proper approach to a p......
  • State v. Wright, No. 19-0180
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 18, 2021
    ...private, curtilage vis-a-vis open area) but rather on existence of a reasonable expectation of privacy."), overruled by State v. Hanes, 790 N.W.2d 545 (Iowa 2010). Despite the incongruence with our own precedents, we concluded we had "an interest in harmonizing our constitutional decisions ......
  • State v. Thompson, No. 19-1259
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 5, 2021
    ...arguments the court deemed potentially relevant—and potentially useful —to its decision-making process. See, e.g. , State v. Hanes , 790 N.W.2d 545, 556–57 (Iowa 2010) (evaluating, 954 N.W.2d 423 and finding merit in, arguments offered in the defendant's pro se supplemental brief). I can't ......
  • State v. Lowe, No. 10–1454.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • March 15, 2012
    ...certainly has some expectation of privacy. State v. Davis, 228 N.W.2d 67, 72 (Iowa 1975), overruled on other grounds by State v. Hanes, 790 N.W.2d 545, 550 & n. 1 (Iowa 2010). However, a search only occurs if there is a violation of an expectation of privacy “that society considers reasonab......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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