State v. Robinson, 12–1323.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Citation859 N.W.2d 464
Docket NumberNo. 12–1323.,12–1323.
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Scott Robert ROBINSON, Appellant.
Decision Date06 February 2015

859 N.W.2d 464

STATE of Iowa, Appellee
Scott Robert ROBINSON, Appellant.

No. 12–1323.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Feb. 6, 2015.

859 N.W.2d 465

Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Shellie L. Knipfer, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Tyler J. Buller, Assistant Attorney General, Ralph R. Potter, County Attorney, and Christine O'Connell Corken, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.


APPEL, Justice.

In this case, we consider multiple challenges to Scott Robinson's conviction of first-degree kidnapping allegedly arising out of a sexual assault. Robinson contends that his conviction should be reversed because (1) the evidence showed insufficient confinement to support his kidnapping conviction, (2) he was denied access to barrier-free contact with his counsel prior to trial, (3) photographs of him prior to the assault were improperly admitted into evidence, (4) opinion testimony related to the credibility of the alleged victim was improperly excluded, (5) the jury instruction did not properly define the confinement, and (6) the trial information did not give him proper notice of the first-degree-kidnapping charge. We transferred the case to the court of appeals, which affirmed Robinson's conviction.

We granted further review. When we grant further review of a decision of the court of appeals, we have discretion to select issues for our consideration. In this appeal, we consider two issues. First, whether there is sufficient evidence in the record to support the defendant's conviction for kidnapping and second, whether the defendant is entitled to barrier-free contact with his attorney. Because we conclude the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction, we reverse the conviction. We therefore vacate the court of appeals decision related to the sufficiency-of-the-evidence claim and the barrier-free contact claim, but as to the other issues raised in the brief, we will let the court of appeals opinion stand as the final decision of this court. See Hills Bank & Trust Co. v. Converse, 772 N.W.2d 764, 770 (Iowa 2009).

I. Factual and Procedural Background.

In the early morning hours of October 8, 2011, Dubuque police received a complaint about screaming arising from an apartment. Police responded to the scene, heard screams from within the apartment, broke into the apartment from which the screams arose, and found the defendant, Robinson, and B.S. half-naked in the bedroom of the apartment. Police arrested Robinson. On October 12, the State charged Robinson by trial information with kidnapping in the first degree in violation of Iowa Code sections 710.1 and 710.2 (2011) and sexual abuse in the second degree in violation of Iowa Code sections 709.1 and 709.3(1).1 Robinson did not post bail and was held in the Dubuque County Jail pending trial.

When Robinson's counsel sought to meet with him prior to trial, the visiting rooms utilized at the Dubuque County Jail had a Plexiglas barrier between Robinson and his lawyer. There was no pass-through for documents. Video cameras were placed outside the visiting rooms.

859 N.W.2d 466

Robinson filed a motion seeking an order compelling the State to provide him with barrier-free access to his attorney. After a hearing, the district court entered an order declining to compel barrier-free access for each and every meeting between Robinson and his counsel, but instructed the State to provide Robinson and his counsel with barrier-free access upon a showing of need, such as reviewing documents or video or audio recordings. In the event the jail failed to make such contact available, the district court established an expedited hearing process. At such a hearing, if Robinson made a preliminary showing of need, the State would then have to show a case-specific, individualized suspicion in order to sustain any action denying barrier-free access. The record reveals that no further motions were filed with the court on this issue.

The kidnapping case against Robinson proceeded to trial. Because the trial-related question we have determined to review in this appeal involves the substantiality of evidence to support Robinson's conviction of kidnapping, we review the evidence in the light most favorable to the State. See State v. Bass, 349 N.W.2d 498, 500 (Iowa 1984).

At trial, the evidence showed that on the evening of October 7, 2011, B.S. began drinking at home with her brother and a friend. After police officers arrived at the home and asked them to quiet down, the group decided to continue drinking at downtown bars. Ultimately, they ended up at a bar in East Dubuque, Illinois, that remained open until 3:00 a.m. B.S. met Robinson at the East Dubuque bar.

Robinson invited B.S. to an after-hours party at his apartment. After B.S. and Robinson arrived at the apartment, B.S. wondered why there were no other people at the after-hours party. When B.S. took out her phone to make a call, Robinson grabbed it and threw it behind a chair. B.S. then asked Robinson for a drink. But when Robinson made a visit to the bathroom, B.S. grabbed her purse and ran out the door. B.S. realized, however, that she had left her phone in the apartment and went back to retrieve it. When she reentered the apartment, Robinson shut the front door behind her, locked it, and grabbing her neck and jaw and covering her mouth, dragged her down the hallway to the bedroom. B.S. screamed once in the hallway. After shutting and locking the bedroom door from the inside, Robinson threw her on the bed, got on top of her, and covered her mouth when she started to scream. Robinson tried to force B.S. to have oral sex with him. Robinson then flipped B.S. over on her back, and when she again started to scream, Robinson put his hand over her mouth and began to penetrate her.

Awakened by the noise, a downstairs neighbor phoned the police. When the police arrived, they heard screaming and ultimately broke down the front door and entered the apartment. The officers heard more screaming as they approached the bedroom and after being refused entry, broke down the bedroom door. When they entered the room, they saw Robinson and B.S. both naked from the waist down. B.S. was standing and visibly upset.

Based on the evidence presented at trial, the jury convicted Robinson of kidnapping in the first degree, sexually motivated.

Robinson appealed. We transferred the case to the court of appeals. On the issue of sufficiency of the evidence, the court of appeals focused on the jury instruction which posed the question of whether Robinson confined B.S. “more than what is included in the commission of the crime of sexual abuse.” See State v. McGrew, 515 N.W.2d 36, 39 (Iowa 1994) (“A defendant ‘confines' another person in violation of our

859 N.W.2d 467

kidnapping statute only if the confinement definitely exceeds the confinement that is an inherent incident of the underlying felony.”). The court of appeals noted there was substantial evidence that Robinson closed the front door and locked it, thereby requiring police to break the door down in response to screams. The court of appeals further noted the evidence showed that Robinson physically moved B.S. from the living room to the bedroom in a manner that prevented her from escaping and then locked the bedroom door behind him. Robinson then held B.S. in a fashion that prevented her escape. Based on this evidence, the court of appeals found sufficient evidence of confinement to support the kidnapping conviction. The court of appeals further affirmed a pro se challenge to the effectiveness of Robinson's trial counsel on the ground that the instruction on confinement given by the district court was not erroneous. And lastly, for purposes of this opinion, the court of appeals held that if Iowa Code section 804.20 applies to pretrial detainees regarding access to barrier-free contact with his or her attorney, the provision was violated; however, the court was unclear what remedy was appropriate.

II. Standard of Review.

On the issue of sufficiency of the evidence, we review claims for correction of errors at law. State v. McCullah, 787 N.W.2d 90, 93 (Iowa 2010). A jury verdict finding of guilt will not be disturbed if there is substantial evidence to support the finding. See State v. Torres, 495 N.W.2d 678, 681 (Iowa 1993). We consider all the evidence in the record and not just the evidence supporting the finding of guilt. Id. The record is viewed in the light most favorable to the State. Id. “Substantial evidence must do more than raise suspicion or speculation,” State v. Williams, 695 N.W.2d 23, 27 (Iowa 2005), it must “convince a rational trier of fact that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” Torres, 495 N.W.2d at 681; see Williams, 695 N.W.2d at 27; State v. Corsi, 686 N.W.2d 215, 218 (Iowa 2004).

On the issue of the defendant's statutory right to barrier-free contact with counsel, we review the defendant's challenge of the district court's interpretation of Iowa Code section 804.20 for correction of errors at law. See State v. Gonzalez, 718 N.W.2d 304, 307 (Iowa 2006).

III. Discussion of Sufficiency of the Evidence to Support Finding of Confinement...

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