State v. Tucker

Decision Date02 December 2022
Docket Number19-1919
Parties STATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Tyjaun Levell TUCKER, Appellant.
CourtIowa Supreme Court

Jessica Donels (argued) and Andrew Dunn of Parrish Kruidenier Dunn Gentry Brown Bergmann & Messamer L.L.P., Des Moines, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven (argued), Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

Christensen, C.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Waterman, Mansfield, and McDonald, JJ., joined. McDermott, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Oxley, J., joined. May, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

CHRISTENSEN, Chief Justice.

In this case, the defendant appeals his conviction for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(1)(d ) (2018). The defendant states five alternative grounds for his appeal. He claims violations of his state constitutional right to a jury drawn from a fair cross section of the community and his right to effective assistance of counsel. He also claims the district court wrongfully excluded exculpatory evidence in two separate instances. Finally, he claims the jury convicted him based on insufficient evidence.

The court of appeals affirmed the conviction in all respects. On further review, we also affirm the conviction and conclude that Iowa Rule of Evidence 5.106 and the common law doctrine of completeness cannot trump Iowa Rule of Evidence 5.402, which states irrelevant evidence is not admissible.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

Two Des Moines police officers pulled over Tyjaun Tucker on July 28, 2018, at about 10:42 p.m. Before the stop, the officers drove past Tucker, seated in his stationary car, exchanging something with a woman standing at his open car window. When Tucker noticed the police, he immediately drove out of the parking lot, pulling in front of oncoming traffic and nearly causing an accident. The officers then followed and stopped Tucker's car. Officer Garrett, one of the two officers, wore a bodycam that recorded the stop.

During the stop, the officers smelled marijuana. Tucker had no driver's license and claimed he had lost it earlier that day. The officers detained Tucker, restrained his hands, and searched his car. They discovered $650, mostly denominated in $100 bills, in the car's center console. The officers also searched Tucker's person. When they noticed something hidden in his pants, he launched into an obscenity-laced outburst. He started to run away, scream for help, shout at the officers to get off of him, and accuse them of both fighting him for no reason and setting him up. Tucker also repeatedly asked why the officers were "grabbing" him. The object in Tucker's pants turned out to be one ounce of marijuana hidden in his underwear.

The State later charged Tucker by trial information for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. Iowa Code § 124.401(1)(d ). The State formally requested reciprocal discovery no less than three times between October 17, 2018, and December 28, 2018. Upon the State's motion, on January 3, 2019, the district court ordered Tucker to exchange reciprocal discovery within fourteen days. A trial was set for June 3.

On that day, the parties appeared before the district court to discuss pretrial matters. After unsuccessful plea negotiations, jury selection began. Tucker challenged the jury pool's composition on the grounds that it did not represent a fair cross section of the community, leading the trial court to analyze the jury pool's racial composition under the three-pronged test outlined in State v. Lilly , 930 N.W.2d 293, 298–308 (Iowa 2019).

The parties disagreed about the third prong, whether the county's jury selection processes systematically excluded African-Americans from the jury pool. They agreed that Tucker, who is African-American, is a member of a distinctive group in the community. They also agreed the number of African-Americans in the jury pool fell short of the community's population of jury-eligible African-Americans by more than one standard deviation. With resistance from the State, the district court continued the trial so Tucker could obtain expert testimony or other evidence for the third prong. See id. at 299 (citing State v. Plain , 898 N.W.2d 801, 821 (Iowa 2017) ) (setting out the three prongs as originally outlined by the United States Supreme Court in Duren v. Missouri , 439 U.S. 357, 364, 99 S.Ct. 664, 58 L.Ed.2d 579 (1979) ). Discussion was also held on the record with Tucker's lawyer about the names of two local fair-cross-section experts who might be called as expert witnesses for the third prong.

The rescheduled trial commenced on August 19, with a new jury pool. Tucker again made a fair-cross-section challenge under Lilly . As before, the parties agreed the first prong of Lilly was satisfied, so the district court proceeded to the second prong, calculating the standard deviation of the number of African-Americans in the jury pool relative to the proportion of African-Americans in Polk County. Of the 245 jurors in the jury pool, 9 were African-American. Given that 5.4% of the Polk County population were jury-eligible African-Americans, the court determined the jury pool underrepresented African-Americans by a standard deviation factor of 1.19, which satisfied the second prong.

The district court then considered the third Lilly prong. Tucker argued the jury selection process caused systematic underrepresentation of African-Americans because the county relied on voter registration and driver's license records. Statistically speaking, Tucker claimed that "minorities sign up for licenses at a lower rate and also register to vote at a lower rate." To support this argument, he cited one law review article, Paula Hannaford-Agor, Systematic Negligence in Jury Operations: Why the Definition of Systematic Exclusion in Fair Cross Section Claims Must Be Expanded , 59 Drake L. Rev. 761 (2011). He did not put on expert testimony due to "practical problems." He explained he could not hire a court-appointed expert until he had a basis to do so, and he could not know if he had a basis to hire an expert until the jury pool appeared in the courthouse.

The district court ultimately determined Tucker failed to satisfy the third Lilly prong. It reasoned Tucker did not explain how using information from sources other than voter identification and driver's license records would increase minority jury representation. It also reasoned Tucker did not prove the jury selection processes systematically excluded racial minorities. The parties then proceeded to jury selection and empaneled a jury. The court ordered Tucker multiple times to stand when the jury first entered the courtroom, but Tucker refused. He told the court he was hurt and could not stand, despite the fact he had stood moments earlier without any difficulty.

During trial, Tucker lodged various objections to the district court's evidentiary rulings. Two of these objections are relevant in this appeal. First, on the afternoon of the second day of trial, which ended up being the final day of the State's case, Tucker sought to introduce documentary evidence of a settlement payout he received from the QuikTrip Corporation. The documentary evidence included a settlement statement from a law firm,1 a contract releasing Tucker's claims against QuikTrip, various professional invoices, and other documents. Tucker intended to use these documents to demonstrate the $650 cash found in his car did not come from drug sales. However, Tucker had not shared any of these settlement documents with the State during reciprocal discovery. For that reason, the district court prohibited Tucker from introducing them under Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.14(3). The court, however, did allow Tucker to testify about the settlement but, upon a motion in limine from the State, ordered him not to mention the settlement documents. In return, the State agreed not to call attention to the fact Tucker introduced no documents proving the settlement.

Second, pursuant to Iowa Rule of Evidence 5.106, Tucker sought to play for the jury an unedited version of Officer Garrett's bodycam video during his case-in-chief. The State had previously shown the edited version during its examination of Officer Garrett. The unedited footage showed one officer telling a second officer that a third officer, who was not present, had once shot Tucker. In contrast, both the edited and unedited footage showed Tucker telling officers, "I'm the one Scarlet shot right here down here on M.L.K." Tucker specifically wanted the jury to know he had been shot by a police officer, claiming that fact was relevant to the reason the police stopped him and the reason he has problems with law enforcement.

The district court did not allow Tucker to play the unedited footage. As a general matter, the district court supported "the idea that the jury should be able to see everything and anything that happened" during the traffic stop. Nevertheless, the court determined the fact a police officer once shot Tucker was not relevant to the charge of possession with intent to deliver. The court also thought the officer's statements posed hearsay, character evidence, and rule 5.403 problems. While the court would not permit Tucker to show the unedited footage during his case-in-chief, the court did say it would have required the State to show the unedited footage during the State's case-in-chief when Officer Garrett testified, if asked to do so under the completeness doctrine. The court then ordered Tucker not to mention either being shot by a police officer or the existence of unedited bodycam video.

Tucker took the witness stand during the trial. He testified he was in a fast-food parking lot on the night of July 28, 2018, and the police followed him when he drove away. He said the police had no reason to initiate a traffic stop...

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