On Feb. 22nd at 10 a.m., the Iowa Court of Appeals will be hearing Oral Arguments on 3 cases in
the DMACC Bldg #5 Conference Center on the Ankeny Campus. This event is open to the public.
State v. Pace
Anthony Pace appeals from his conviction for domestic abuse assault while displaying a dangerous weapon, claiming violations of his right to confront witnesses. He also contends the court improperly assessed fees in an unknown amount to him at sentencing. Finally, Pace argues newly-discovered evidence warrants a new trial.
State v. King
Blake King appeals from his convictions for burglary and sexual abuse, which merged into a conviction for one count of first-degree burglary. He challenges the trial court’s denial of his motions to strike two jurors for cause, claims his trial counsel’s performance was deficient in failing to move for judgments of acquittal and in not raising an intoxication defense, and argues there was insufficient evidence to support the convictions.
State v. Hicks
Eddie Hicks appeals from his conviction of first-degree murder, claiming the court erred in denying his motion to suppress, there was insufficient evidence he acted with specific intent to kill, his motion for substitute counsel was improperly denied, prosecutorial misconduct deprived him of a fair trial, there was an intervening cause of death, the trial judge should have recused himself, and he was denied the effective representation of counsel.
About the Iowa Court of Appeals
The Iowa Court of Appeals was established as an intermediate appellate court by the legislature in
1976 to ease the growing backlog of cases in the Iowa Supreme Court. Under Iowa’s appellate system,
all appeals from trial court decisions go to the supreme court. The supreme court may retain an
appeal or transfer it to the court of appeals. As an appellate court, the Iowa Court of Appeals
does not preside over trials. Appeals proceedings do not involve witnesses, juries, new evidence,
or court reporters. Instead, the court reviews the written record of the trial court to determine
whether any significant legal errors occurred. Most cases are decided on the briefs filed by the
parties. Oral arguments are granted in about 20% of the cases to supplement the briefs. A decision
of the court of appeals is final unless reviewed by the Iowa Supreme Court on grant of further
review. Less than 5% of its decisions are taken on further review by the supreme court.
16-1785 State v. Pace
In March 2016, Anthony Pace was in a relationship with a woman, S.C., with whom he had a nine-month-old child. The woman also had a four-year-old son. S.C. and the children left the apartment they shared with Pace after an incident that resulted in Pace calling the police and reporting S.C. had struck him.
On March 18, S.C. returned to Pace’s apartment. She was on a telephone call with her mother, who
overheard Pace threaten S.C. The mother called 911, informed the dispatcher she was in a different
state, and that her daughter was being threatened with a gun. Police went to Pace’s apartment,
knocked, and announced their presence. After some time, Pace answered the door and was ordered to
the ground. Pace was handcuffed and removed from the apartment. A gun was located lying in a pile
of clothes behind a closed door of a closet of the upstairs bedroom. Police questioned S.C. as to
what had happened. S.C. denied any assault had been committed, but her four-year-old son told
police that Pace had tried to shoot or kill his mother.
At trial, S.C. testified Pace had threatened her with a gun. Pace denied doing so or ever touching
the gun that was found. The child did not testify but responding officers testified about the
child’s statements made to police.
The jury convicted Pace of domestic abuse assault while displaying a dangerous weapon. At
sentencing, the district court determined Pace had the reasonable ability to pay correctional fees
before knowing the total amount of fees owed.
About four months after sentencing, Pace filed a motion for new trial on the basis of
newly-discovered evidence—a February 2017 social media post alleged to have been made by S.C.
denying the events of March 18, 2016. A hearing was held and the court denied the motion.
Issues raised on appeal:
1. Did the trial court err in overruling Pace’s Confrontation Clause objections to the introduction
of the four-year-old’s statements to police?
2. Did the court err in finding Pace had the ability to pay room and board reimbursement fees
without knowing the amount of the fees?
3. Did the court err in denying Pace a new trial based on his claim of newly-discovered evidence?
17-0063 State v. King
Blake King and the complainant, M.A., were acquaintances who had spent the night out bar-hopping in a party bus with a large group celebrating M.A.’s birthday. Towards the end of the evening King dropped M.A. off at the home of another party attendee. King returned later and engaged in sexual activity with M.A.
King was charged with two counts of first degree burglary and one count of third-degree sexual
abuse. Among the disputes in the case were whether M.A. had invited King back to the residence and
whether the sex was consensual, including the degree of M.A.’s intoxication. The jury found
defendant guilty of all three counts. The court merged counts II and III into the conviction under
count I for first-degree burglary.
Prior to trial, in the juror questionnaire one of the prospective jurors disclosed that her 16-year
old daughter had recently been the victim of a “date rape,” having been given alcohol by a man who
subsequently sexually assaulted her. The district court declined to strike the juror for cause and
King used a peremptory strike to remove the juror from the panel. King moved to strike a second
juror for cause after trial was underway when the juror remember knowing M.A.’s mother. The
district court denied the motion.
Issues raised on appeal:
1. Did the trial court abuse its discretion in denying King’s motions to strike the jurors for
2. If the court did err, what is the proper remedy?
3. Was King denied the effective assistance of counsel by the failure to challenge essential
elements of the burglaries and sexual abuse?
4. Was King denied the effective assistance of counsel by the failure to raise an intoxication
defense or request jury instructions on intoxication?
5. Was there sufficient evidence to support the convictions?
17-0130 State v. Hicks
Dubuque police were dispatched in response to a 911 call. Eddie Hicks had gone to a neighbor’s residence looking for help and stating he was stabbed. The neighbor said Hicks was acting like he was drunk and was not steady on his feet. Hicks was taken to the hospital for treatment. He was handcuffed to the gurney while in the ambulance because his behavior was erratic. Hicks had stab wounds and lacerations to his chest, neck, and hands. His blood tested positive for marijuana, benzodiazepines, phencyclidine (PCP), and alcohol.
Police officers found Hicks’ girlfriend, K.L., lying on the ground just outside her apartment.
There was blood throughout K.L.’s apartment, broken glass, and other signs of a struggle. She was
transported to the hospital at about 11:00 p.m. K.L. was found to have approximately 40 stab wounds
to her head and neck, and a total of 113 “sharp force injuries” on her entire body. She had
defensive wounds on her hands and forearms. Her two front teeth were knocked out. Despite being
given approximately 20 units of blood, she was pronounced dead at about 3:00 a.m.
Hicks was charged with first-degree murder. He moved to suppress statements he made while he was in
the emergency room and to police officers at the hospital the next day, claiming they were not
voluntarily made. The motion was denied.
After a bench trial, the trial court rejected Hicks’ affirmative defenses of intoxication and
diminished responsibility, and found Hicks guilty of first-degree murder.
Issues raised on appeal:
1. Was Hicks in custody when in the emergency room?
2. Were Hicks’ statements on June 17 made voluntarily?
3. Did Hicks voluntarily and intelligently waive his Miranda rights before giving statements on
4. Was there sufficient evidence of a specific intent to kill to support the conviction?
5. Did the trial court err in denying Hicks’ request for a substitute counsel?
6. Was there prosecutorial misconduct?
7. Was a punctured lung an intervening cause of death?
8. Did the trial court err in not recusing?
9. Was Hicks denied the effective representation of counsel?