Decisions
This section of the Web Site contains opinions selected by individual Judges for posting and is not intended to constitute a complete set of opinions for the district or any Judge. The decisions are organized by categories listed on the lower left portion of this page. If you would like to do a word search of the entire database or individual categories you may do so by clicking on the search button below.


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Ingram v. United States (Action by federal prisoner challenging geographic disparity in the application of § 851 enhancements: Eighth Amendment claim and equal protection/selective prosecution claim.)10/31/2017Mark W. Bennett
Estate of Leighton Fitz01/18/2017Edward J McManus
James Robert Ernst III v Black Hawk County Jail, et al12/22/2016Edward J McManus
Smith v. Smith, et al. -- Memorandum opinion and order accepting report and recommendation on defendants' motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's Section 1983 claims. Plaintiff alleged deliberate indifference to a serious medical need and failure to train based on his work assignment at a landfill. Court found there was no genuine issue of material fact as to whether plaintiff suffered an objectively serious medical need from his alleged exposure to bio-hazardous material and whether defendants were deliberately indifferent. Plaintiff also failed to demonstrate a fact issue on his failure to train claim. Court concluded defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the undisputed facts of each of these claims and granted defendants' motions for summary judgment.09/29/2016Leonard T. Strand
Glenn McGhee v State of Iowa08/16/2016Edward J McManus
Randy Blanchard v. William Sperfslage07/05/2016Edward J McManus
Barajas v. USA -- Post remand ruling on Barajas' 28 U.S.C. section 2255 petition. Although Judge O'Brien previously found that petitioner's trial counsel failed to advise petitioner about the collateral consequences of his plea, the Supreme Court decision in Chaidez v. United States, 133 S. Ct. 1103 (2013) controls this case. In Chaidez the Supreme Court found that Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356, 360 (2010) announced a new rule, and under existing precedent, new rules are not applicable to cases that arose prior to the announcement of the new rule. Thus, because petitioner's case occurred before the Supreme Court announced its decision in Padilla, the petitioner is not entitled to Padilla type relief. Additionally Barajas' argument that Teague v. Lane, 489 U.S. 288 (1989) should not aply to federal prisoners is not supported by any Eighth Circuit precedent and is denied. Finally, neither Barajas' argument that Judge O'Brien made a secondary holding, or that Barajas received material misrepresentation, are supported by the record in this case and are denied. The petitioner is entilted to a certificate of appealability on the issues of whether Teague v. Lane applies to federal prisoners. 02/29/2016Leonard T. Strand
Scott v. Benson & Smith (Civilly detained sexual offender brought a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 action for declaratory relief. In his principal claim, detainee argued that he had a due process right to refuse unwanted medical treatment, pursuant to Supreme Court precedent in Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 720 (1997). Detainee also argued that the defendants were deliberately indifferent by providing him a medically restricted diet, making decision regarding his prosthetic leg and wheelchair, and not allowing him to travel to the University of Iowa for medical services. The court held that although citizens have a general right to refuse unwanted medical treatment, no law supported detainee's request for prospective injunctive relief because, after applying the Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78 (1987) factors, the government often has a countervailing interest in the course of a detainee's medical treatment. Accordingly, the propriety of injunctive relief must be determined on a case by case basis. The court also held that the detainee had failed to establish that the defendants were deliberately indifferent regarding detainee's prosthetic leg and wheelchair; the detainee's claim related to a medically restricted diet was barred by the doctrine of res judicata; and the detainee had no constitutional right that would allow him to choose where he received medical services.)12/17/2015Mark W. Bennett
Hillman v. Wagers, et al. -- Report and Recommendation on defendants' motion for summary judgment. Court found defendants have accurately described the applicable law and have properly applied that law to the undisputed material facts. Court found that the record, even if viewed in a light most favorably to the plaintiff, fails to establish a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the defendants violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights and whether defendants are entitled to qualified immunity. Court granted the motion for summary judgment and ordered the judgment be entered against plaintiff in favor of defendants. 08/20/2015Leonard T. Strand
Stokes v. Hacker -- Order on defendant's motion to set aside default entry and motion to set aside default judgment. Court determined that good cause existed to set aside the clerk's entry of default due to the blameworthiness of both parties in allowing this default to occur. Court determined that plaintiff was not prejudiced by this delay. Court also found that the motion to set aside default judgment was moot after setting aside the clerk's entry of default. Motion was denied in part and granted in part. 08/17/2015Leonard T. Strand
Welsh v. Andrews, et al. -- Report and Recommendation on defendants' motion to dismiss. Court found there were no genuine issues of material fact regrding Welsh's excessive force claim. Court also found the use of pepper spray, under the circumstances, was not used maliciously, did not cause the type of injury required for an Eighth Amendment claim and was reasonable. Court concluded Welsh failed to exhaust all available administrative remedies prior to filing the lawsuit. Court further found prison staff and officials were entitled to qualified immunity and the Iowa Department of Corrections was entitled to Eleventh Amendment immunity. Court recommdnded the motion to dismiss be granted with respect to all claims. 06/30/2015Leonard T. Strand
Garcia De Alvarez v. U.S. (Motion for relief from sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 by a federal prisoner asserting ineffective assistance of counsel; petitioner’s claims denied without hearing as to trial counsel’s failure to seek a bill or particulars, explain alternatives to trial in “laymen’s” terms, and failure to challenge drug quantity and purity; evidentiary hearing granted on petitioner’s claim that trial counsel failed to interview and present potential witnesses that the petitioner had identified)02/06/2015Mark W. Bennett
Fiore v. Drew, et al -- Report and Recommendation on defendants' motion for summary judgment. Court concluded Fiore failed to properly exhaust all available administrative remedies by not submitting grievances based on the allegations in his complaint and by not following the correct grievance procedures. Court also concluded Fiore could not create any genuine issues of material fact regardng his allegations of deliberate indifference towards his medical needs, verbal sexual harassment and failure to respond to grievances. Court recommended defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted and Fiore's complaint be dismissed with prejudice.02/05/2015Leonard T. Strand
Richard Trevino v. Woodbury County Jail, et al. -- Report and Recommendation on motion for summary judgment by defendants Woodbury County Jail, Lieutenant Phillips and Carlos LNU. Court concluded Trevino failed to exhaust all available administrative remedies by not submitting grievances to the Jail regarding all his allegations, by not following the Jail's procedures for filing grievances and by not filing any complaints with the Department of Justice. Court also concluded no genuine issues of material fact exist with regard to the elements of Trevino's ADA claim. Court recommended the motion for summary judgment be granted with respect to all Trevino's claims.01/22/2015Leonard T. Strand
Wilkins v. Ludwick -- Order on pending motions and Report and Recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. 2254. Court denied motions to add a supplemental claim and expand the record because supplemental claim was barred by statute of limitations. As to the petition, court found Iowa Supreme Court did not identify Strickland as the correct governing law for petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claim for failure to object to use of the nickname "O.J." at trial. In conducting de novo review, court found petitioner failed to demonstrate prejudice under Strickland. Court found that Iowa Court of Appeals decision on other ineffective assistance of counsel claim for failure to investigate a witness and call him at trial did not result in an unreasonable application of federal law. Court recommended the petition be denied. 07/21/2014Leonard T. Strand
Celia v. North Central Correctional Faciltiy, et al. -- Report and Recommendation on defendants' motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's Section 1983 claim of deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. Court found plaintiff failed to demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact as to whether defendants actually knew of and disregarded a substantial risk of serious harm to plaintiff in the treatment and timing of treatment for his ankle injury. In addition, the undisputed evidence showed plaintiff had not exhausted his administrative remedies as required by 42 U.S.C. 1997e(a) and defendants were entitled to qualified immunity. Court recommended defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted.06/13/2014Leonard T. Strand
Langdeaux v. Lund -- Order on motion to expand the record and Report and Recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. 2254. Court denied motion to expand the record under 28 U.S.C. 2254(e)(2). As to the petition, court found Iowa Court of Appeals decision did not result in any unreasonable application of federal law when it concluded the petitioner was not prejudiced by his counsels' failure to advise him about the felony-murder rule in the context of whether to accept the state's plea offer. Court also found Iowa Court of Appeals reasonably applied Strickland in concluding counsels' decision not to call the sheriff as a witness or conduct further investigation based on his statement did not amount to deficient performance. Court recommended the petition be denied. 05/20/2014Leonard T. Strand
Koons v. United States of America (Motion for relief from sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 by a federal prisoner asserting ineffective assistance of counsel; respondent’s motion to dismiss as untimely converted to petitioner’s motion for summary judgment on equitable tolling of the statute of limitations: whether counsel hired to file § 2255 Motion engaged in misconduct sufficient to constitute “extraordinary circumstances” that prevented the petitioner from timely filing her § 2255 Motion, and whether the petitioner acted “diligently” before and after the deadline for filing her § 2255 Motion before filing the Motion pro se three months after the deadline)01/31/2014Mark W. Bennett
Sanders v. McKinney, et al. -- Report and Recommendation on defendants' motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's Section 1983 claim for deliberate indifference to a serious medical need. Court found that plaintiff had failed to demonstrate genuine issue of material fact as to whether defendants actually knew of a substantial risk of serious harm to Sander's health and disrgarded it. Alternatively, defendants were entitled to a qualified immunity and there was insufficient factual evidence to support Sander's claim against certain defendants. Court recommended that defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted.12/17/2013Leonard T. Strand
Velazquez-Ramirez v. Fayram -- Report and Recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. 2254. Court found Iowa Court of Appeals unreasonably applied Strickland's prejudice prong to claims of ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to file a motion for change of venue and investigate prejudice in the jury pool and failure to raise issue of compliance with the Vienna Convention. However, under de novo review the court found petitioner was unable to demonstrate prejudice. Court found Iowa Court of appeals reasonably applied Strickland in concluding counsel's alleged failure to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to support first-degree murder did not amount to deficient performance. Finally, court found claim of ineffective assistance for failure to file a motion to suppress based on Miranda violation was procedurally barred. Court recommended petition be denied.10/23/2013Leonard T. Strand
Honken v. United States of America, Order Regarding Motion to Vacate Set Aside or Correct Convictions and Sentences10/04/2013Linda R. Reade
Rogers v. U.S. : (federal prisoner’s pro se motion to set aside sentence, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, on guilty plea to bank fraud via a check cashing scheme: ruling without evidentiary hearing: granting a new sentencing on the basis of ineffective assistance of trial counsel by failing to object to a two-level enhancement pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1(b)(10), for use of an “access device” because the bad checks used to perpetrate the bank fraud scheme in this case did not constitute an “access device,” and ineffective assistance of trial counsel by failing to investigate adequately the petitioner’s mental health as an explanation of his prior violent conduct for which his sentence had been enhanced) 06/11/2013Mark W. Bennett
Guillermo Escobedo v. Mark Lund (Action for federal habeas relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 by a state prisoner challenging his conviction for first-degree murder on the ground that his trial counsel failed to seek an “automatic” mistrial when the trial judge excused a juror for bias after deliberations had started and replaced the excused juror with an alternate contrary to Iowa law, which required a mistrial or the defendant’s agreement to continue deliberations with the eleven remaining jurors)06/03/2013Mark W. Bennett
Boss v. Ludwick (Action for federal habeas relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 by a state prisoner challenging his conviction for the first-degree murder of his foster son on the ground that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance (1) by revealing the location of the child’s body and (2) by failing to advise and consult with the petitioner adequately before convincing the petitioner to reveal the location of the child’s body; parties’ objections to report and recommendation by magistrate judge finding “prejudice” from trial counsel’s performance, but denying federal habeas relief; stating standards for review by the district court of a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation; construing the nature of the petitioner’s underlying constitutional claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and his claims for federal habeas relief pursuant to § 2254(d); considering whether the federal court is required to review de novo both prongs under Strickland, if the state court stated the wrong standard of review for one prong; considering whether denial of relief by the state courts on the basis of failure to find “deficient performance” under Strickland were “contrary to” or “unreasonable applications of” federal law or “unreasonable determinations” of the facts in light of the evidence before the state courts pursuant to § 2254(d)(1) and (2); and declining to consider the “prejudice” prong under Strickland, where the lack of deficiency in the state court decisions concerning “deficient performance” was fully dispositive of the petitioner’s claims)05/03/2013Mark W. Bennett
Escobedo v. Lund -- Report and Recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 USC 2254. Petitioner claimed ineffective assistance of trial counsel for failure to move for a mistrial when a juror was substituted during deliberations. In recommending the petition be denied, the Court found the petitioner fialed to show that the decision of the Iowa Court of Appeals involved an unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedent.09/06/2012Leonard T. Strand
Boss v. Ludwick (state prisoner’s § 2254 petition; petitioner’s objections to report and recommendation on petitioner’s motion to stay unexhausted claims: standards of review for a report and recommendation; rules of unexhausted and procedurally defaulted claims; availability of “stay and abeyance” procedure when claims are procedurally defaulted)05/01/2012Mark W. Bennett
Angela Johnson v. U.S. : (capital defendant’s § 2255 Motion asserting 64 grounds for relief from her convictions and death sentences for murders in furtherance of a continuing criminal enterprise (CCE murder) pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 848(e)(1)(A) and 18 U.S.C. § 2: grounds that the petitioner chose to emphasize in her post-hearing brief included the following: her attorneys' failure to pursue a disposition for a sentence less than death before trial; her attorneys' failure to adjust her medications or otherwise address the effects of her medication on her demeanor and competence during the merits phase of her trial; her attorneys' failure to confront aggravating evidence, or to prepare and present an effective mitigation case, and prosecutorial misconduct during the penalty phase of her trial; and a claim that the Bureau of Prisons' method of carrying out her execution would violate the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the Administrative Procedures Act, and the Controlled Substances Act. Convictions upheld, but relief from death sentences granted, and new penalty-phase trial ordered, on 4 of 48 claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.)03/22/2012Mark W. Bennett
Freie v. Fayram (Petition for habeas corpus relief from Iowa state court conviction under § 2254; respondent filed motion to dismiss claiming that all of petitioner’s claims were untimely; report and recommendation prepared by magistrate judge recommended granting respondent’s motion because petitioner’s claims were untimely; petitioner filed pro se objections to report and recommendation; the court concluded that magistrate judge correctly determined that petitioner’s claims were all barred by the one-year period of limitations in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d). Respondent’s motion to dismiss was granted. )10/13/2011Mark W. Bennett
Freie v. Fayram - Report and Recommendation recommending granting respondent's motion to dismiss petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 USC 2254. Court found that tollign of AEDPA's limitations period did not apply to petitioner's untimely petition06/09/2011Paul A. Zoss
Powell v. Fayram -- Report and Recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 USC 2254. Petitioner claimed ineffective assistance of trial counsel in four respects: (1) failure to move for judgment of acquittal; (2) failure to move for change of venue: (3) failure to give petitioner correct advice during plea negotiations concerning the time he would serve if convicted of attempted murder; and (4) failure to retain an expet witness to establish that brakes on pickup truck were defective. In recommending the petition be denied, the Court found the petitioner failed to show that the decision of the Iowa Court of Appeals involved either an unreasonable application of Supreme Court precedents to the facts, or was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence.02/18/2011Paul A. Zoss
Woodard v. O'Brien -- Report and Recommendation on defendants' motion for summary judgment. Despite anecdotal evidence suggesting defendants' actions caused plaintiff to suffer needless pain, court reluctantly found plaintiff had failed to meet his burden to offer verifiable medical evidence that defendants' actions caused plaintiff harm. Plaintiff therefore failed to show defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, and the court recommended defendants' motionfor summary judgment be granted.01/10/2011Paul A. Zoss
Turner v. U.S. (Federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, asserting as grounds that the prosecution violated his due process rights under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), by failing to disclose police reports that contained material which could have been used to impeach the police officers and that he was provided with ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. Motion denied in its entirety: first, petitioner, by entering a plea of guilty, waived his right to collaterally attack his conviction based on claims that his counsel was ineffective in his handling of the suppression hearing, that his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to challenge the sufficiency of the Indictment’s 21 U.S.C. § 860 charge, and that the prosecution’s failure to disclose the police reports was a Brady violation; second, petitioner could not relitigate in his § 2255 motion his claim that his appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to challenge petitioner’s armed career criminal designation since that issue was raised and decided on appeal; and, finally, petitioner could not demonstrate that his counsel’s conduct fell below the wide range of reasonable professional assistance in failing to object to prosecution’s § 851 notice of enhanced penalties, or that but for counsel’s failure to object to the prosecution’s § 851 notice, the result of the proceedings would have been any different.)07/15/2010Mark W. Bennett
Johnson v. U.S.(§ 2255 motion by defendant convicted of capital charges of murders while working in furtherance of a continuing criminal enterprise: respondent’s motion for psychiatric examinations of the petitioner: the applicable discovery rule for mental examinations, via Habeas Rule 6(a), is Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, not Rule 12.2 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure; “in controversy” and “good cause” requirements of Rule 35, including whether the respondent was required to meet those requirements as to categories of mental conditions and categories of tests, or as to specific mental conditions and specific tests; Fifth and Sixth Amendment concerns and requirements for reports) 03/18/2010Mark W. Bennett
Redd v. McKinney -- Report and Recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 USC Section 2254. Court found petitioner failed to show Iowa court's decisions were unreasonable in finding his trial and appellate counsel were not ineffective for failing to lodge proper objections to admission of certain evidence at trial. 03/16/2010Paul A. Zoss
Chisley v. Lund -- Report and Recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 USC 2254. Petitioner claimed state court should not have allowed hearsay testimony into evidence. Court found the claim to be unreviewable because Iowa courts decided the claim on state law grounds, and petitioner had failed to exhaust the claim on federal constitutional grounds.02/09/2010Paul A. Zoss
Williams v. Ault -- Report and Recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 USC 2254. Petitioner claimed trial court erred in failing to suppress identification testimony resulting from photo array; evidence was insufficient to prove he aided and abetted in murder and robbery; and trial counsel were ineffective in failing to object to jury instruction on alternative theories of prosecution, failing to enforce a plea agreement, and failing to advise him of his right to testify. Court found petitioner failed to show Iowa appellate court decisions were contrary to clearly-established federal law, or that his counsel's performance, even if deficient, prejudiced him. 01/19/2010Paul A. Zoss
Maldonado v. U.S. (2255 motion for post-conviction relief: claims of improper use of an uncounseled misdemeanor conviction, also without an interpreter, to enhance a federal sentence, ineffective assistance of counsel in failing to raise that claim at sentencing or on direct appeal to overcome procedural default of that claim and as a claim for relief, and ineffective assistance of counsel leading to forfeiture of the third level reduction for acceptance of responsibility) 01/15/2010Mark W. Bennett
Report and Recommendation on defendant's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff alleged defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, causing him to suffer ongoing, severe pain and ultimately resulting in removal of his left eye. Court found material issues of disputed fact existed, precluding summary judgment as to all but one of the defendants. Court further found that either plaintiff exhausted his administrative remedies, or alternatively a material issue of material fact existed regarding whether he properly exhausted his remedies. Court further found defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity. 01/14/2010Paul A. Zoss
Hart v. Baldwin, et al. (Motion for Summary Judgment; the court grants defendants’ motion for summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff failed to “properly exhaust” his remedies pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a), as there was no genuine issue of material fact concerning whether his grievance was timely filed—plaintiff failed to comply with the prison system’s rule that grievances must be filed within thirty days of incident about which the prisoner is complaining.) 09/22/2009Mark W. Bennett
Hart v. Baldwin -- Report and Recommendation on defendants' motion for summary judgment in prisoner 1983 case where plaintiff claimed unconstitutional retrictions on his mail. Court found plaintiff had failed to exhaust administrative remedies with regard to claims for monetary damages, and claims for equitable relief were rendered moot when prisoner was transferred to another facility.07/23/2009Paul A. Zoss
Redd v. McKinney -- Report and Recommendation on respondent's motion for partial summary judgment. Parties conceded, and court concluded, that only one issue raised in 2254 petition had been properly exhausted and was ripe for decision.07/20/2009Paul A. Zoss
Winters v. Maples -- Report and Recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 USC 2254. Court recommended denial of writ on all grounds, including petitioner's argument that sentence enhancement on the basis of habitual offender status violated the double jeopardy clause.02/02/2009Paul A. Zoss
Smith v. Ault -- Report and Recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 USC 2254. Petitioner claimed double jeopardy when he was prosecuted for both contempt and escape after he failed to surrender himself to custody as ordered. Court found the two crimes have different elements, and double jeopardy was not implicated by dual prosecution.01/29/2009Paul A. Zoss
Weatherspoon v. Ault -- Report and Recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 USC 2254. Court found all of petitioner's claims were procedurally defaulted, and recommended denial of writ01/27/2009Paul A. Zoss
Roque v. Ault -- Report and Recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 USC 2254. Petitioner claimed he was entitled to an interpreter or other staff assistance in defending two disciplinary actions. Court found petitioner failed to meet his burden to show state court erred in denying his claims01/14/2009Paul A. Zoss
Chisley v. Lund -- Report and Recommendation on defendants' motion for partial summary judgment. Court found three of petitioner's claims in this 2254 action were unexhausted and procedurally defaulted, and ineffective assistance of PCR counsel, though clear, could not excuse procedural default.01/09/2009Paul A. Zoss
U.S. v. Kenneth Siepker : (federal prisoner’s pro se motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255: ruling without evidentiary hearing: alleged ineffective assistance of counsel on the following grounds: failure to move for severance of drug and gun counts, failure to request an “Old Chief instruction,” failure to file a motion in limine to preclude non-coconspirator hearsay evidence, failure to object to count charging commission of offense while on pre-trial release as an illegal Bill of Attainder, failure to request a buyer-seller instruction, failure to object to hearsay, stipulation that firearms were possessed “in or affecting commerce,” failure to object to a constructive amendment of the indictment on the gun charges, and failure to assert an “Apprendi claim” based on court determination of drug quantity; constitutional claims based on admission of hearsay evidence in violation of the Sixth Amendment confrontation clause, and insufficient evidence on the drug conspiracy count of an illegal agreement; denial of a certificate of appealability)12/18/2008Mark W. Bennett
Alice McCabe and Christine Nelson v. Michelle Mais; district court denies defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law but grants defendant's motion for partial new trial on damages, on plaintiffs' claims that defendant illegally strip and visual body cavity (VBC) searched their persons. With respect to Defendant's motion for judgment as a matter of law, district court held that, although Linn County's policy of blanket strip searches was clearly unconstitutional, there was sufficient evidence to support an award of more than nominal damages. With respect to defendant's motion for new trial, district court held that jury's award of damages shocked the conscience and, if allowed to stand, would result in a miscarriage of justice. 10/02/2008Linda R. Reade
John Cyril Lapid Buenaventura v. Jerry Burt, Warden--Report and Recommendation (Right to consular notification, Sufficiency of the evidence, Ineffective assistance of counsel (exclusion of harassment and vandalism evidence and failure to investigate)08/29/2008Jon Stuart Scoles
Smith v. Rogerson -- Report and Recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 USC 2254. In recommending the petition be denied, court found petitioner failed to show error in plea colloquy or that his attorneys were ineffective.04/23/2008Paul A. Zoss
Jones v. Wilder-Tomlinson -- Report and Recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 USC 2254. In recommending the petition be granted, the Court found no probable cause existed for Jones's arrest on drug paraphernalia charge in violation of city ordinance based solely on the presence of a small scale in the vehicle in which Jones was a passenger. 04/04/2008Paul A. Zoss
Dible v. Scholl -- Memorandum Opinion and Order of Dismissal. Plaintiff filed this action under 42 USC 1983, for damages resulting from loss of good time credit. Court held disciplinary notice issued to plaintiff was constitutionally deficient, and defendants were not protected by qualified immunity. However, in light of 12-15-07 opinion in Entzi v. Redmann, 485 F.3d 998 (8th Cir. 2007). court reluctantly concluded plaintiff's action was barred by Heck v. Humphrey.03/07/2008Paul A. Zoss
Walter Junior Hoskins, III vs. Cornell Smith, Warden of Fort Dodge Correctional Facility of Iowa's Department of Corrections (Report and Recommendation on motion for evidentiary hearing & expand record, illegal search, identity of confidential informant)10/30/2007Jon Stuart Scoles
Tomlinson v. Burt (State prisoner’s petition for habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254: ruling on motion to dismiss: “substantive” and “procedural” claims of “actual innocence,” procedural default of “due process” and “ineffective assistance of counsel” claims) 09/21/2007Mark W. Bennett
James R. Woelfel vs. Jerry Burt, Warden, Anamosa State Penitentiary (Report and Recommendation re 2254, exhaustion, ineffective assistance of counsel, double jeopardy)08/15/2007Jon Stuart Scoles
Cletus F. Johnson, Petitioner vs Jerry Burt, Warden, Respondent (Report and Recommendation re 2254, prosecutorial misconduct, Batson claim)07/30/2007Jon Stuart Scoles
Richmond v. Burt (Federal prisoner’s petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254; case initially referred to Magistrate Judge Paul A. Zoss, who recommended the petition be dismissed on procedural grounds; petitioner filed objections to Judge Zoss’s Report and Recommendation, essentially contending his constitutional claims were not procedurally barred; upon conducting de novo review of petitioner’s claims, court overrules petitioner’s objections and accepts Judge Zoss’s Report and Recommendation; petitioner did not fairly present his constitutional claims to the Iowa courts and even if he had, petitioner’s claims are without merit; petition is dismissed and no certificate of appealability shall be issued.) 01/04/2007Mark W. Bennett
Dible v. Scholl and Maynard -- Order on parties' cross- motions for summary judgment. Former Iowa inmate (who had discharged sentence and been released) brought section 1983 action against State officials for violation of due process rights in connection with disciplinary notice that resulted in loss of good time credit. Court found disciplinary notice to be constitutionally deficient, and further found defendants were not entitled to qualitified immunity. Defendants' motion for summary judgment denied plaintiff's cross-motion granted; and case ordered to proceed to trial solely on issue of damages.12/20/2006Paul A. Zoss
U.S. v. Arturo Ruiz-Ahumada (Federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 asserting relief on two grounds; specifically, the defendant asserted (1) an error based on United States v. Booker, 125 S. Ct. 738 (2005), on the grounds that he was sentenced under the mandatory Guidelines regime, which impermissibly allowed a judge, as opposed to the jury, to adjust the sentencing range based on a preponderance of the evidence, and (2) that his plea was the product of coercion and therefore, not entered into voluntarily; motion denied in its entirety; first, defendant’s case was not pending when Booker was decided, and thus Booker’s holdings are an inapplicable basis to attack his sentence; second, the defendant’s own statements during the plea hearing demonstrate he pled guilty knowingly and voluntarily; defendant also filed separately a pro se Motion to Amend and a pro se Motion to Supplement; both motions are denied as untimely, as they do not relate back to his original § 2255 petition.)10/24/2006Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Perez-Sanchez (Federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 asserting relief on the following grounds: (1) a “Booker error,” based on the defendant’s contention that a jury, not the sentencing judge, should have determined the amount of drug quantity attributed to him for sentencing purposes; (2) ineffective assistance of trial counsel in failing to challenge the constitutionality of 21 U.S.C. § 841 to the extent that those provisions permitted the court to make drug quantity and role determinations in violation of Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000); and (3) failure of appellate counsel to argue that the defendant’s rights under the Vienna Convention were violated during his plea hearing on appeal; motion denied in its entirety; first, defendant’s case was not pending when Booker was decided, and thus Booker’s holdings are an inapplicable basis to attack his sentence; second, neither trial counsel’s nor appellate counsel’s performance was not deficient on the grounds alleged by the defendant. )10/17/2006Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Alfredo Luna (Federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, asserting as grounds the ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel for the following reasons: (1) that his trial counsel was ineffective because he failed to fully impeach government witnesses; (2) that his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the edition of the federal guidelines used at the time of sentencing; (3) that his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the criminal history for defendant that was set out in his presentence investigation report; (4) that his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the standard utilized by the court in determining the applicability of a two-level weapons enhancement pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(b); (5) that his appellate counsel was ineffective in failing to raise the issue of trial counsel’s ineffectiveness in failing to fully impeach government witnesses; (6) that appellate counsel was ineffective in failing to raise the issue of the edition of the federal guidelines used at the time of sentencing; and, (7) that his appellate counsel was ineffective in failing to raise on appeal the issue of the court’s calculation of defendant’s criminal history. Defendant also challenged his sentence in light of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Booker, 125 S. Ct. 738 (2005), arguing that the Booker decision must be given retroactive effect; motion denied in its entirety, first, the Booker decision does not apply retroactively to cases on collateral review, second, defendant had not established that his trial or appellate counsel were ineffective in representing defendant, specifically, defendant did not demonstrated that he was prejudiced by his counsel’s cross-examination of government witnesses at trial; defendant did not demonstrate that he was prejudiced by the use of the 2000 edition of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines because the punishment under the 2000 and 1998 Sentencing Guidelines remained the same, because defendant’s criminal history was not manifestly less serious than that of defendants typically labeled category II, defendant did not demonstrated that he was prejudiced by his counsel’s failure to seek a downward departure on the grounds that his assessed criminal history category overstated the seriousness of his criminal history; defendant’s counsel could not be faulted for not challenging the court’s application of § 2D1.1(b)’s two-level weapons enhancement to defendant where trial testimony showed that during the course of the drug conspiracy defendant possessed several firearms, including several pistols and an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle and threatened to use his AR-15 rifle on a possible informant and pointed a pistol at an individual during several drug transactions)10/03/2006Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Juan Carlos Vazquez-Munoz (Federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 asserting three allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel; specifically, the defendant asserted his counsel was ineffective in (1) failing to file an appeal after being expressly directed to do so by the defendant; (2) failing to file an appeal without obtaining the defendant’s consent; and (3) failing to object to the PSIR regarding the defendant’s role in the offense; motion denied in its entirety; defendant did not expressly direct his attorney to file an appeal and he could neither prove breach of duty nor prejudice on either of his remaining claims.)09/28/2006Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Hernandez (Federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 asserting relief on two grounds; specifically, the defendant asserted (1) an error based on United States v. Booker, 125 S. Ct. 738 (2005), on the grounds that he was sentenced under the mandatory Guidelines regime, which impermissibly allowed a judge, as opposed to the jury, to adjust the sentencing range based on a preponderance of the evidence, and (2) a somewhat related claim of ineffective assistance of counsel due to counsel’s failure to anticipate Booker, in light of Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), which had been decided at the time of the defendant’s sentencing; motion denied in its entirety; first, defendant’s case was not pending when Booker was decided, and thus Booker’s holdings are an inapplicable basis to attack his sentence; second, counsel’s performance was not deficient on the grounds alleged by the defendant. )09/25/2006Mark W. Bennett
Jordan v. Carr -- Findings of Face, Conclusions of Law, and Order on bench trial in case brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. section 1983. Jordan, a Muslim, alleged jail official violated his First Amendment right to free exercise of religion by failing to allow him to attend both Christian and Muslim services within the jail. Court found Joran failed to establish the defendant's actions substantially burdened his sincerely held religious beliefs, or that Jordan's rights were violated. Judgment for defendant.09/22/2006Paul A. Zoss
U.S. v. Renee Carlson (Federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255; specifically, the defendant asserted that (1) her plea was the product of coercion, (2) she was forced to incriminate herself, presumably by admitting to her involvement in the conspiracy during her plea hearing, (3) the government failed to disclose the evidence against her because she never personally viewed the evidence; additionally, the defendant contends her counsel was ineffective in (1) preparing her for her guilty plea, (2) failing to ensure she was read her Miranda rights, and (3) failing to inform her of her right to appeal; motion denied in its entirety; defendant was not entitled to relief on any of the alleged grounds.)09/11/2006Mark W. Bennett
Mark v. Burger (state prisoner's action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254: order granting relief on "Brady" claims)08/31/2006Donald E. O'Brien
U.S. v. Hernandez : (federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255: alleged “Booker error,” and allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel before, during, and after trial, including (1) failure to assert “Apprendi claim”; (2) failure to investigate the facts of the case, including facts that would have provided the basis to challenge the credibility of the government’s witnesses and the falsehoods in their trial testimony; (3) failure to challenge, at trial and on appeal, sentencing enhancements for obstruction of justice, possession of a firearm, and drug quantity, and (4) failure to assert that the evidence showed multiple conspiracies instead of the single conspiracy with which Hernandez was charged, supplemented at evidentiary hearing to include (5) failure of trial counsel to advise him adequately of the law applicable to his consideration of whether to go to trial, plead guilty; determination of whether resentencing was appropriate relief on the last claim)08/30/2006Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Jeffrey Determan (Federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 asserting relief on one ground: that he received an illegal sentence based on United States v. Booker, 125 S. Ct. 738 (2005); motion denied in its entirety; first, defendant’s case was not pending when Booker was decided, and thus Booker’s holdings are an inapplicable basis to attack his sentence.) 08/18/2006Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Lori Clare Kavitz : (federal prisoner’s motion to set aside sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255: ten allegations of ineffective assistance of counsel before and during sentencing pursuant to a plea agreement, including challenge to voluntariness of guilty plea and request to reopen Apprendi claim, which had been dismissed on initial review, in light of Blakely).07/17/2006Mark W. Bennett
Richmond v. Burt -- Report and Recommendation that petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 USC 2254 be denied. Court found petitioner's claims were procedurally defaulted for failing to properly raise constitutional issue in Iowa courts relating to trial court's admission into evidence of conversation between petitioner and member of the clergy.06/15/2006Paul A. Zoss
U.S. v. Javier Barajas Ramirez (federal defendant’s post-conviction motion to vacate sentence on a drug-trafficking charge pursuant 28 U.S.C. § 2255 based on ineffective assistance of trial counsel in failing to move for a safety-valve reduction in the defendant’s sentence and failure of appellate counsel to appeal the omission of a safety-valve reduction)06/13/2006Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Homero Bustos Flores (federal defendant’s post-conviction motion to vacate sentence on a drug-trafficking charge pursuant 28 U.S.C. § 2255 based on (1) ineffective assistance of trial counsel, consisting of (a) denial of his right to testify; (b) failure to challenge the drug quantity calculation; (c) failure to raise a challenge pursuant to Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), at sentencing; and (d) failure to make a timely objection to omission of safety-valve eligibility in the PSIR; (2) ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, who was the same as his trial counsel, consisting of failure to raise issues (1)(b), (1)(c), and (1)(d); and (3) imposition by the trial court of a sentence in violation of the defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights as established by Apprendi, consisting of judicial fact-finding regarding drug quantity and enhancement of his sentence based upon such improper fact-finding)06/13/2006Mark W. Bennett
Stewart v. Kautzky -- Report and Recommendation on defendants' motion for summary judgment. Court recommended defendants' motion for summary judment be granted on basis of plaintiff's failure to prosecute, as well as on the merits. 06/06/2006Paul A. Zoss
Langel v. Burt (Petition for habeas corpus relief from state court conviction under § 2254; report and recommendation prepared by magistrate judge recommended denying petitioner’s petition; petitioner filed objections to report and recommendation; upon review of magistrate judge’s findings and conclusions, the court accepted report and recommendation, concluded that magistrate judge correctly determined that petitioner’s counsel’s performance was not ineffective since petitioner’s waiver of jury trial was voluntary, knowing, and intelligent. Petitioner did not object to magistrate judge’s recommendation that petition’s counsel recommended the bench trial as a tactical matter, and his performance was not ineffective.) 05/25/2006Mark W. Bennett
Laffey v. Burt (Habeas petition by state prisoner; petitioner’s objections to report and recommendation on the merits of the petition: alleged insufficiency of the evidence of sexual abuse of children under twelve in violation of due process; alleged Eighth Amendment violation asserting disproportionality between the offenses and two consecutive twenty-five year sentences imposed for them)05/08/2006Mark W. Bennett
Laffey v. Burt -- Report and recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 USC 2254. Petitioner, convicted of two counts of sexual abuse of minors, argued (1) inconsistencies in victims' testimony and leading manner in which testimony was elicited rendered evidence insufficient under Due Process Clause to support guilty verdict; and (2) imposition of consecutive sentences violated Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. Court recommended petition be denied on both claims.04/12/2006Paul A. Zoss
Langel v. Burt -- Report and Recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 USC 2254. Court found petitioner failed to show his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to have trial court question defendant about his waiver of jury trial, or in failing to assert justification defense, and court recommended petition be denied. 04/11/2006Paul A. Zoss
Jordan v. Linn County Jail, et al -- Report and recommendation on defendants' motion for summary judgment in this action under 42 USC 1983. Plaintiff alleged defendants denied him the right to practice his religion by not allowing him to attend both Christian and Muslim services, and by denying him literature and a prayer rug. Defendants claimed plaintiff had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. Court found defendants had responded timely to requests for literature and prayer rug, and had provided the items to plaintiff. Court found defendants failed to show plaintiff, in fact, had right to appeal denial of grievance, and recommended motion be denied on claim that plaitniff's right were violated by denial of right to attend both types of religious services.03/10/2006Paul A. Zoss
Lang v. Ault -- Report and recommendation, recommending denial of petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 2254. Court found state courts correctly determined petitioner had breached plea agreement, and petitioner could not show prejudice from counsel's failure to object to state's sentencing recommendation.01/26/2006Paul A. Zoss
Dible v. Steve Scholl & Gary Maynard (Suit by former prisoner under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against two prison officials for monetary damages associated with alleged violations of the prisoner’s due process rights; motion to dismiss; motion to dismiss denied as former prisoner was unable to pursue habeas relief on mootness grounds leaving an action under § 1983 as the only available remedy to the plaintiff; in the absence of binding United States Supreme Court or Eighth Circuit precedent, plaintiff could proceed with § 1983 action without first satisfying Heck v. Humphrey’s favorable termination requirement.)01/24/2006Mark W. Bennett
Wedebrand v. Ault -- Report and Recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Section 2254. Petitioner alleged his state and federal attorneys were ineffective in failing to advise him properly concerning plea proposal made by state and federal governments. Court found petitioner failed to show his attorneys were ineffective, and recommended petition be denied.11/17/2005Paul A. Zoss
Peterson v. Weatherly ( Report and recommendation on defendant's motion for summary judgment in this prisoner civil rights case. Plaintiff alleged defendant, who was nurse at facility, ordered his confinement in medical segregation, which led him to develop ischial ulcers. Court found defendant did not order plaintiff's confinement, and she performed no actions that led, or could have led, to plaintiff developing his ulcers, or that otherwise violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights. Court recommended summary judgment be granted in defendant's favor.)11/01/2005Paul A. Zoss
White v. Kautzky, et al. (Prisoner’s § 1983 action for denial of access to the courts; review of magistrate judge’s report and recommendation on the merits: legal assistance system at the prison, which precluded all legal research on the inmate’s improper extradition claim, even where such legal research would have been reasonably necessary, in the exercise of a legal advisor’s reasonable professional judgment, to provide reasonably competent legal advice on the merits of the inmate’s claim, violated the inmate’s right of access to the courts, and the inmate suffered “actual injury,” because the legal assistance system itself so stymied his ability to obtain adequate legal advice that he could not file any claim based on improper extradition; appropriate remedy, where the statute of limitations on any claim had expired, was nominal damages and declaratory relief)09/08/2005Mark W. Bennett
USA v. Hessman -- Report and recommendation, recommending denial of defendant's motion to dismiss indictment for speedy trial violation. Court found no speedy trial violation where neither party had notified the court, as previously ordered, of U.S. Supreme Court's denial of defendant's petition for writ of certiorari.05/20/2005Paul A. Zoss
Lang v. Ault (Petition for habeas corpus relief from Iowa state court conviction under § 2254; respondent filed motion for partial summary judgment claiming that all but two of petitioner’s claims are procedurally defaulted because petitioner failed to exhaust those claims; report and recommendation prepared by magistrate judge recommended granting respondent’s motion because it was unresisted; petitioner filed pro se objections to report and recommendation; the court concluded that magistrate judge correctly determined that only two issues that petitioner raised on direct appeal to the Iowa Court of Appeals could be considered in this federal habeas proceeding because petitioner failed to properly exhaust any of his other issues in the Iowa courts; the court concluded that the court could not reach the merits of petitioner’s procedurally defaulted claims because he cannot show cause for his default and prejudice or actual innocence. Respondent’s motion for partial summary judgment was granted.)05/17/2005Mark W. Bennett
Keene v. Ault -- Report and Recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 USC 2254. Petitioner asserted ineffective assistance of counsel for (1) failing to challenge Iowa Code section 709C.1 as unconstitutionally vague; (2) allowing petitioner to plead guilty in absence of adequate factual basis; and (3) failing to inform petitioner fully about collateral consequences of guilty plea. Court recommended denial of petition on all grounds.05/17/2005Paul A. Zoss
Maghee v. Ault (Report and recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 USC 2254. Petitioner filed petition to challege disciplinary action taken against him in connection with his attempt to mail sealed letter to attorney. Court found (1) state courts failed to address petitioner's constitutional claim at all, with result that state court legal conclusions were entitled to no deference; but (2) no First Amendment violation occurred; and (3) some evidence existed to support administrative sanction.)05/11/2005Paul A. Zoss
Bolden v. Rogerson (Report and recommendation on petition for writ of habeas corpus under 24 USC 2254. Petitioner entered guilty pleas to two burglary charges. He was represented by court-appointed counsel in one case. In the other case, he represented himself pro se, with court-appointed standby counsel. Petitioner claimed his guilty pleas were invalid because he had not made a knowing and intelligent waiver of counsel, and he did not understand all the consequences of pleading guilty. As grounds for habeas relief, he claimed his appellate counsel was ineffective in failing to raise these claims. Court found no merit in any claim and recommended denial of petition, relying on Iowa v. Tovar, 541 US 77 (2004), and Page v. Burger, 2005 WL 100500 (8th Cir. May 2, 2005).05/06/2005Paul A. Zoss
U.S. v. David L. Taylor, Jr.; Order regarding motion to vacate, set aside or correct sentence04/28/2005Linda R. Reade
U.S. v. David L. Taylor, Jr.; Order regarding motion for new trial based on newly discovered evidence04/28/2005Linda R. Reade
White v. Kautzky (Report and recommendation on merits of this action brought under 42 USC 1983. Plaintiff claimed contract attorney system in Iowa state prisons, and failure ot keep prison law library up to date, denied his right of access to the courts. Court found no violation and recommended judgment for defendants.)04/25/2005Paul A. Zoss
Mallett v. NephCare, Inc. & Nurse "Terry"04/19/2005Mark W. Bennett
Laffey v. Ault (Petitioner convicted of two counts of second-degree sexual abuse, sentenced to two consecutive 25-year terms; petitioner appealed on four grounds one of which was that consecutive sentences constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment; Iowa Supreme Court affirmed petitioner’s conviction and discussed the Eighth Amendment claim, but vacated the sentence on ground that court abused its discretion in considering an improper sentencing factor; at resentencing petitioner was sentenced to two consecutive 25-year terms; petitioner appealed new sentences, but did not again raise the Eighth Amendment claim; Iowa Court of Appeals affirmed his new sentences; petitioner later filed petition for habeas corpus under § 2254; respondent moved to dismiss petitioner’s habeas petition on grounds that it was “mixed”—specifically claiming Eighth Amendment claim was unexhausted as it was not raised on direct review following resentencing; Report and Recommendation recommended denying the motion to dismiss; on de novo review the court rejected respondent’s argument that the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (“AEPDA”) exterminated futility as a basis for excusing exhaustion of state court remedies, and noted that post-AEDPA Eighth Circuit case law recognized the continued viability of the futility exception to the exhaustion requirement; court further held futility doctrine applied in this instance where Iowa Supreme Court had adversely ruled on the petitioner’s Eighth Amendment claim as to his original sentences and where the new sentences were based on an identical factual predicate as the original sentences; objections overruled; Report and Recommendation adopted; motion to dismiss denied.)04/04/2005Mark W. Bennett
Matlock v. Vilsack, et al. (Plaintiff filed § 1983 claims against Governor of the State of Iowa, Black Hawk County and John Does based on fact that plaintiff’s civil commitment under Iowa Code Chapter 229A was later found unconstitutional by Iowa Court of Appeals; both named defendants moved to dismiss; magistrate judge’s report and recommendation recommended granting motions to dismiss; no abuse of process claim could be sustained as there were no facts alleged that any defendant had used Chapter 229A against the defendant for an improper purpose or with an impermissible motive; further, no § 1983 action could be maintained as both County and Governor, in his official capacity, were immune from such suit; report and recommendation accepted; motions to dismiss granted.)03/10/2005Mark W. Bennett
Brian R. Sillick v. John F. Ault; In the context of a 28 U.S.C. § 2254 petition, the court found the state courts' analysis of Sillick's ineffective assistance of counsel claims based on the failure to object to allegedly flawed jury instructions did not result in decisions contrary to or involving an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law. Furthermore, the state courts' analysis of such claims did not result in a decision based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding. Sillick's remaining ineffective assistance of counsel claims are procedurally defaulted. 02/25/2005Linda R. Reade
Laffey v. Ault (Report and recommendation on State's motion to dismiss petition for writ of habeas corpus filed under 28 U.S.C. section 2254. Petitioner filed direct appeal after sentencing, raising Eighth Amendment issue. Appellate court remanded for resentencing, discussing Eighth Amendment issue fully but deciding case on other grounds. On appeal after resentencing, petitioner failed to reassert Eighth Amendment argument, believing to do so would be moot given prior appellate court decision on the issue. Respondent argued the issue was unexhausted. Court found any failure to exhaust could be excused on basis of futility, and recommended motion to dismiss be denied.)02/09/2005Paul A. Zoss
Mallett v. Naph Care, Inc. (Report and recommendation, recommending defendants' motion for summary judgment be granted in prisoner civil rights action brought under 42 USC section 1983. Prisoner who was given wrong medication suffered allergic reaction. Court found nurse's negligence was not actionable under section 1983; plaintiff failed to show defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs; and liability may not be grounded upon respondeat superior theory.)02/09/2005Paul A. Zoss
Matlock v. Vilsack (Report and Recommendation on motions to dismiss filed by defendants Gov. Thomas Vilsack and Black Hawk County. Plaintiff was civilly committed as a sexually violent predator. The Iowa Court of Appeals reversed the commitment order, and remanded the case for dismissal of the commitment petition. Plaintiff filed this action under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 against Gov. Vilsack and Black Hawk County for damages on grounds of emotional and mental anguish, wrongful imprisonment, and malicious prosecution. Court recommends dismissal on the basis that Plaintiff has failed to state a claim for which relief can be granted under section 1983.)10/06/2004Paul A. Zoss
U.S. v. Rudy Balmore Zavala Villalobos (Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody; claim that the court employed the wrong standard in determining drug quantities at his sentencing; review of whether the indictment was fatally flawed because it failed to reference 21 U.S.C. § 841(b); analysis of whether the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 490 (2000), rendered 21 U.S.C. § 846 facially unconstitutional; relief under § 2255 denied; certificate of appealability denied as to all issues)09/30/2004Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Juan Carlos Mier-Godinez (Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody; claim of ineffective assistance of counsel; examination of whether claim that defendant’s conviction was obtained in violation of his Fifth Amendment rights because his plea was not knowing and voluntarily made was procedurally defaulted; analysis of whether defendant procedurally defaulted on his claim that he was improperly sentenced based on facts that he did not admit at his plea hearing but that were later proved by a preponderance of the evidence at his sentencing hearing and used in calculating his sentence; relief under § 2255 denied; certificate of appealability denied as to all issues)09/29/2004Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Marcelino Garibay-Gomez (Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody; claims of ineffective assistance of counsel; analysis of whether defendant could challenge correctness of sentence in view of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000); examination of whether claim that defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial was violated by delays was procedurally defaulted; analysis of whether defendant procedurally defaulted on claim that the court departed upward in sentencing him without first providing him with notice of its intent to possibly depart upward; analysis of whether defendant’s claim that the government failed to establish the amount of methamphetamine attributed to him at sentencing was procedurally defaulted; relief under § 2255 denied; certificate of appealability denied as to all issues)09/29/2004Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Ira Jerome Moore (Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody; claims of ineffective assistance of counsel; analysis of whether claim, that a prior conviction for burglary of a commercial building should not have qualified as a “crime of violence” under the Career Criminal Act because it did not qualify under section 4B1.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines, was procedurally defaulted; analysis of whether defendant could challenge correctness of sentence in view of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000); relief under § 2255 denied; certificate of appealability denied as to all issues) 09/28/2004Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Benjamin Franklin Moore (Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody; claims of ineffective assistance of counsel; analysis of whether defendant could challenge correctness of sentence in view of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000); relief under § 2255 denied; certificate of appealability denied as to all issues)09/28/2004Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Thomas Kosek (Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody; claims of ineffective assistance of counsel for for failing to challenge his conviction for methamphetamine as a schedule II drug, for failing to challenge Kosek being sentenced as a career offender pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1, and for failing to seek a downward departure under Rule 35(b); relief under § 2255 denied; certificate of appealability denied as to all issues)09/28/2004Mark W. Bennett
Edwards v. Ault (Petition for habeas corpus relief from Iowa state court conviction under § 2254; respondent filed motion to dismiss claiming petition contained both exhausted and unexhausted claims; report and recommendation prepared by magistrate judge; petitioner’s objection to recommended dismissal of the fourth claim in his petition (ground D) was overruled as claim had not been properly raised before any Iowa Court and could not be raised as limitations period had passed; three remaining claims exhausted, therefore motion to dismiss mixed petition denied; three remaining claims involved ineffective assistance of counsel revolving around trial counsel’s counseling defense DNA expert to use the term “exclusion” in his testimony in front of and FBI agent; as petitioner failed to show an actual conflict of interest, prejudice was not presumed under Cuyler; petitioner could not show Strickland prejudice as a result of trial counsel’s mistake, therefore ineffective assistance of trial counsel claim failed; as trial counsel was not ineffective, appellate counsel was not ineffective for failing to raise trial counsel’s ineffectiveness on appeal; report and recommendation accepted; motion to dismiss denied; ground four (D) dismissed as unexhausted and procedurally defaulted; writ of habeas corpus denied on the merits; certificate of appealability would not issue.)09/27/2004Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Raul Sanchez (Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody; claims of ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to object to the probation report which did not indicate whether the controlled substance was l-methamphetamine or d-methamphetamine, for failing to object to the failure of the government to show the type of narcotic involved by a preponderance of the evidence as to support the base level offense, for failing to object to the testing of the Iowa Department of Public Safety since it did not determine whether the narcotic was l-methamphetamine or d-methamphetamine, for failing to object to the lack of determination of the type of methamphetamine involved, the lesser of the two types of methamphetamine should have been used to determine his base offense level; for failing to object to the firearm which was found in a closed drawer of a dresser at defendant’s residence; for failing to raise the argument that it was not unlawful for him to possess that firearm at the time of the search of his residence; for failing to argue that he was not present in the bedroom and did not have access to the firearm at the time of the search; for failing to argue that mere possession of the firearm was insufficient to sustain the firearm enhancement; for not making a request for a downward departure on the basis that defendant would be subject to deportation after the completion of his sentence; for not objecting to the probation officer’s finding that there were no other grounds for downward departure; for failing to provide a full and fair hearing on all available issues and arguments; for not appealing the dismissal of the indictment without prejudice even though the issue was preserved for appeal in his plea agreement; analysis of whether defendant could challenge correctness of sentence in view of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000); relief under § 2255 denied; certificate of appealability denied as to all issues)09/27/2004Mark W. Bennett
Schneider v. Jergens, et al (Report and Recommendation on the merits of a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Court found two of petitioner's five claims to be procedurally defaulted, and all five of his claims to be unexhausted. Court recommended dismissal without prejudice to allow petitioner to file an application for post-conviction relief.)09/24/2004Paul A. Zoss
Jasa v. Mathes (Motion to dismiss habeas corpus petition on grounds of procedural default; report and recommendation prepared by magistrate judge; petitioner does not object to recommendation that motion to dismiss be granted as to jury misconduct claim; no plain error in magistrate’s analysis of petitioner’s jury misconduct claim, therefore recommendation that claim is accepted; petitioner asserted that his mental illnesses prevented him from appealing from denial of his postconvicion relief application which asserted ineffective assistance of counsel; petitioner failed to show that his mental disorders made him unable to comprehend his legal rights and responsibilities at the time during which he should have pursued postconviction relief; procedural default not excused; report and recommendation accepted; motion to dismiss granted.)09/13/2004Mark W. Bennett
U.S. v. Gary O'Dell (Motion under 28 U.S.C. §2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody; claims of ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to object to leading questions; for failing to obtain a handwriting analysis of defendant in regard to the forged cashier checks; for failing to ask for a limited instruction regarding cooperating witnesses; for being careless in the way he phrased questions to witnesses; for failing to object to coconspirator testimony; for failing to make a record regarding the advice he had given to defendant about whether to testify at trial; for not objecting to remarks made during the prosecutor’s rebuttal summation; for failing to obtain a copy of the trial transcript; for failing to understand the admissibility of polygraph examination results; for failing to seek a maximum term of imprisonment of five years on the conspiracy charge; relief under §2255 denied; certificate of appealability denied as to all issues )08/26/2004Mark W. Bennett
Charette v. Duffy (Report and Recommendation on defendants' motion for summary judgment in prisoner civil rights case under 42 U.S.C. section 1983. Plaintiff alleged defendants violated his Eighth Amendment rights by being deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs when they failed to provide him with proper testing, treatment, and care for Hepatitis C virus. In recommending summary judgment be granted in favor of defendants, court found protocols developed by Iowa Department of Corrections, in conjunction with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, were appropriate; plaintiff's test results did not fall within the parameters of the protocols to warrant liver biopsy or referral to outside doctors; and defendants had not violated plaintiff's rights.)08/04/2004Paul A. Zoss
U.S. v. Daniel Castro (Motion under 28 U.S.C. §2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody; claims of ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to conduct an adequate pretrial investigation; for failing to prepare a blame shifting defense, for failing to file a timely motion to suppress, for failing to move for severance, for failing to appeal a magistrate judge’s decision to deny defendant’s motion to continue trial and extension of time to file a motion to suppress, for failing to withdraw from the case, for failing to resubmit defendant’s motion to suppress and motion to continue trial after the superseding indictment was filed against him, for failing to move to dismiss the Superseding indictment, for failing to withdraw after trial; for not raising ineffective assistance of counsel on direct appeal, for failing to request that defendant be sentenced for a schedule III controlled substance, for failing to request a minimal or minor role adjustment in his sentence; claim that defendant’s sentence was incorrect because his criminal history category was in part based on a conviction that was subsequently vacated; relief under §2255 denied; certificate of appealability denied as to all issues)08/04/2004Mark W. Bennett
United States v. Howard Harp (28 U.S.C. §2255; claim of ineffective assistance of counsel based on counsel’s alleged refusal to file timely appeal; failure to advise defendant to plead only to drug charges; failure to advise defendant to pursue trial on only gun possession charge; §2255 denied; certificate of appealability denied as to all issues)07/22/2004Mark W. Bennett
Atwood v. Mapes (Petition for habeas corpus relief from Iowa state court conviction under § 2254;petitioner convicted of two counts of vehicular homicide and sentenced to two indeterminate terms not to exceed ten years; report and recommendation prepared by magistrate judge; petitioner contends his right to an impartial verdict was violated when trial judge, outside the presence of petitioner and his trial counsel, informed the jury of an anonymous telephone threat received prior to closing arguments; Remmer presumption is not clearly established federal law and therefore failure to apply the presumption does not amount to a constitutional violation; additional questions surround application of Remmer as communication was not related to the defendant or facts bearing on the indictment; burden of demonstrating prejudice lies with petitioner; petitioner failed to provide any evidence of prejudice or partiality, therefore objection was overruled; petitioner did not request to be present when trial judge informed jury of the threat, and therefore his right to be presence was waived; alternatively, any violation of petitioner’s right to be present was harmless error; ineffective assistance of counsel claim failed as petitioner could not establish Strickland prejudice arising from his trial counsels’ failure to request presence at the meeting or request to voir dire the jurors to ascertain if they were prejudiced; report and recommendation accepted; writ of habeas corpus denied; certificate of appealability would issue.)07/19/2004Mark W. Bennett
Williams v. Ault (Report and recommendation on respondent's motion to dismiss petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. section 2254, and on the merits of the petition. Respondent claimed petition was mixed, including both exhausted and unexhausted claims. Court found the only unexhausted claim also was procedurally defaulted; recommended the claim be deemed barred, leaving only exhausted claims for review; and, therefore, recommended the motion to dismiss be denied. On the merits, court found petitioner had failed to show prejudice from trial counsel's allegedly inadequate performance, and therefore he could not prevail on ineffective assistance of counsel claim. As a result, appellate counsel could not be ineffective for failing to raise, on appeal, claim that trial counsel was ineffective.)07/12/2004Paul A. Zoss
Jasa v. Mathes (Report and recommendation on respondent's motion to dismiss habeas petition brought under 28 U.S.C. section 2254. Court recommended dismissal of petition, finding: (1) with regard to claim of juror misconduct, petitioner failed to satisfy requirements for fundamental-miscarriage-of-justice exception to ordinary "cause" and "prejudice" standard for overcoming procedural default; petitioner failed to come forward with new, reliable evidence of actual innocence; (2) with regard to claims that trial and appellate counsel were ineffective, petitioner failed to show his mental illness constituted cause for procedural default by interfering with or impeding his ability to comply with state procedural requirements.)06/28/2004Paul A. Zoss
Hepperle v. Ault (Petition for habeas corpus relief from Iowa state court conviction under § 2254; petitioner convicted of first-degree murder for the stabbing death of a neighbor and sentenced to life imprisonment; report and recommendation prepared by magistrate judge; petitioner does not object to recommended dismissal of his Miranda claim; no plain error in magistrate’s analysis of petitioner’s Miranda claim, therefore recommendation that Miranda claim be denied is accepted; petitioner’s objection to the standard used by magistrate in analysis of petitioner’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim overruled; petitioner contends trial counsel was ineffective for proffered victim’s husband as alternate perpetrator rather than the neighborhood ‘window peeper’ who admitted to attempting to window peep at the time the crime was committed; trial counsel’s decision to offer husband as alternate perpetrator was strategic in nature, and was not unreasonable; petitioner admitted knowledge of intended trial strategy in offering victim’s husband as alleged perpetrator; trial counsel’s performance was not deficient or ineffective; petitioner could not show outcome of trial was prejudiced by trial counsel’s ; report and recommendation accepted; writ of habeas corpus denied; certificate of appealability would not issue.)06/23/2004Mark W. Bennett
Bakker v. Kuhnes (Order granting defendants' motion for summary judgment in prisoner 1983 action. Court found plaintiff failed to exhaust administrative remedies with regard to his claims that defendants were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs.)05/14/2004Paul A. Zoss
Austin v. Ault : (Petition for habeas corpus relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254; objections to report and recommendation recommending denial of all claims: de novo review of claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel, based on “unpreparedness,” and ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, based on failure to assert trial counsel’s “unpreparedness”)03/22/2004Mark W. Bennett
Foell v. Mathes (Petition for habeas corpus relief from Iowa state court conviction under § 2254;petitioner convicted of first-degree murder for the stabbing death of a 69-year-old woman; report and recommendation prepared by magistrate judge; petitioner’s objections omission of certain facts from report and recommendation granted in part and denied in part; petitioner contends trial counsel was ineffective for not asserting a diminished responsibility defense; trial counsel recognized availability of mental defenses other than insanity; trial counsel’s decision not to offer a diminished responsibility defense reasonable in light of express wish of defendant that information in mental evaluations not be made public and in light of fact that information in mental evaluations would likely bolster State’s theory; trial counsel’s assertion of defense based on intoxication and petitioner’s suggestibility was reasonable; petitioner could not show outcome of trial was prejudiced by trial counsel’s assertion of this defense; report and recommendation accepted; writ of habeas corpus denied; certificate of appealability would not issue.)03/19/2004Mark W. Bennett
Robert Connor, et al. v. Ault (Prisoners’ § 1983 claims; bench trial; objections to report and recommendation recommending judgment in favor of the defendants and against plaintiffs; analysis of Muslim inmates’ claims arising under the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause; prison policies pursuant to the factors articulated in Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 89-90 (1987); consideration of the impact accommodation of the asserted constitutional right would have on guards and other inmates, and on the allocation of prison resources generally; review of whether plaintiffs could point to any alternatives that fully accommodated their rights at de minimis cost to valid penological interests)03/11/2004Mark W. Bennett
Atwood v. Mapes (R&R on petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 2254. Petitioner asserted trial court erred in informing jury about threatening phone call, and doing so in ex parte meeting with jury. He also asserted ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to be present during judge's meeting with jury, and failing to voir dire jury to determine prejudice. Court recommended denying petition on basis that, under applicable Supreme Court precedent, petitioner had failed to prsent convincing evidence that state court erred in finding jury's deliberations were not biased; he and his counsel waived his right to be present in meeting with jury, and even if ex parte meeting was erroneous, error was harmless; and petitioner failed to show prejudice from counsel's alleged ineffectiveness.02/25/2004Paul A. Zoss
Hepperle v. Ault (R&R on petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 2254. Court found petitioner was not "in custody" at the time he made statements to police during a murder investigation so no Miranda warnings were required, and trial counsel was not ineffective in failing to investigate and offer evidence that someone else committed the murder.02/13/2004Paul A. Zoss
Austin v. Ault (R&R on petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 2254. Court found five of petitioner's six claims to be procedurally defaulted. On sixth claim, court found appellate counsel could not be ineffective in failing to preserve issue of trial counsel's effectiveness, where trial counsel was not ineffective.02/11/2004Paul A. Zoss
Montgomery v. Mapes (R&R that petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 2254 be denied. Issue: Whether petitioner's trial counsel was ineffective in failing to seek exclusion of evidence from show-up identifications. Court found petitioner failed to show trial court made unreasonable determination of facts in light of evidence, where trial court found strong circumstantial evidence was sufficient to establish petitioner's guilt even in absence of challenged eyewitness identifications. Therefore, petitioner could not show prejudice for purposes of ineffective assistance of counsel claim, and appellate counsel was not ineffective in failing to raise issue of trial counsel's ineffectiveness. 02/09/2004Paul A. Zoss
Foell v. Mathes (R&R on petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 2254. Issue: Whether attorney's failure to investigate and present defense of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome constituted ineffective assistance of counsel in violation of defendant's Sixth Amendment rights. Court found counsel's failure to offer futile defense was not effective. Court also found court's performance did not warrant presumption of prejudice under United States v. Cronic. 02/06/2004Paul A. Zoss
U.S. v. Elias Real-Flores; Order on review of defendant's 28 U.S.C. Section 2255 motion12/02/2003Linda R. Reade
Ronald Dean Swartz v. John Mathes, Warden; 28 U.S.C. Section 225411/12/2003Linda R. Reade
Connor v. Ault (R&R following bench trial in this civil rights action brought by prisoners at Anamosa State Penitentiary. The plaintiffs, both practicing Muslims, alleged their constitutional rights were violated by prison policies that prevented them from participating fully in Islamic religious services and activities. Court found policies were reasonably related to legitimate penological interests, and recommended judgment for the defendants.)08/06/2003Paul A. Zoss
White v. Kautzky (Prisoner’s § 1983 "access to courts" claim; review of magistrate judge’s report and recommendation on defendants’ motion for summary judgment: whether there are genuine issues of material fact on "reasonable opportunity to present claims" and "actual injury" elements where "contract attorneys" at prison allegedly failed to provide any advice on the viability of a potential claim for post-conviction relief)07/03/2003Mark W. Bennett
Schneider v. Jergens, et al. (Habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254; motion to dismiss challenge to constitutionality of the review procedure for criminal contempt convictions: procedural default, exhaustion of state remedies and alleged "ineffectiveness" of such remedies, and dismissal or amendment of a"“mixed petition" asserting exhausted and unexhausted claims)06/26/2003Mark W. Bennett
Schneider v. Jergens, et al (R&R on motion to dismiss filed by Intervenor State of Iowa in a habeas proceeding under 28 U.S.C. section 2254. Petitioner challenges constitutionality of appellate procedure in contempt actions. Iowa law provides that if contempt application is denied, applicant may file direct appeal as of right, but if application is granted, defendant may only appeal by way of petition for writ of certiorari. State intervened on the constitutional issue and moved to dismiss. Issues discussed: procedural default; exhaustion of remedies, specifically whether criminal contempt is a "public offense" for purposes of postconviction relief actions, and excused failure to exhaust where available remedies are deficient or futile. Court recommends denial of motion to dismiss, and certification of constitutional question to Iowa Supreme Court.)06/11/2003Paul A. Zoss
Bowers v. Burger (R&R on motion to dismiss habeas action under 28 U.S.C. Section 2254. Issues: AEDPA statute of limitations; procedural default; and whether defendant's low IQ of 70 constitutes cause sufficient to overcome procedural default, or to toll the AEDPA statute of limitations)05/30/2003Paul A. Zoss
Hepperle v. Ault (Order denying evidentiary hearing in habeas case under 28 U.S.C. section 2254. Petitioner failed to fully develop factual basis for claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel, because PCR counsel failed to question trial counsel about significance of two police reports. Court held ineffective assistance of PCR counsel is not sufficient basis to warrant evidentiary hearing.)04/21/2003Paul A. Zoss
Jones v. McKinney (R&R on motion to dismiss in habeas case under 28 U.S.C. s. 2254. Issues discussed: defendant's right to challenge guilty plea when no motion in arrest of judgment was filed; procedural default; exhaustion of State remedies; ineffective assistance of counsel; what constitutes "fair presentation" of federal claim in State proceedings)04/09/2003Paul A. Zoss
LeFlore v. Mathis, et al. (R&R on motion to dismiss petition for writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to 24 U.S.C. s. 2254. Recommends dismissing petition on basis that petitioner has been released from custody, and failed to allege sufficient collateral consequences to survive mootness inquiry.)04/01/2003Paul A. Zoss
Frazier v. Rogerson (Habeas corpus; motion to dismiss; review of magistrate judge's report and recommendation and petitioner's objections to report and recommendation recommending dismissal: timeliness under 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1)(A)(deadline runs from date judgment is "final" and § 2244(d)(1)(D) (date factual predicate could have been discovered by due diligence); applicability of doctrine of equitable tolling of statute of limitations based on "extraordinary circumstance.")03/04/2003Mark W. Bennett
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