Iowa Supreme Court expected to release opinions in four cases Friday

by Rox Laird | April 22, 2021

Opinions in four cases are expected to be released by the Iowa Supreme Court Friday, April 23. Following are On Brief’s previously published summaries of the cases. Go to On Brief’s Cases in the Pipeline page to read briefs filed with the Court in these appeals.

State v. Dessinger

 Issue: Should oral statements and a nonverbal demonstration have been excluded as inadmissible hearsay?

Argued Oct. 15.

Shanna Dessinger seeks further review of a May 13 Court of Appeals ruling affirming her conviction by a Webster County District jury of child endangerment. Dessinger was convicted in part on testimony of a child who offered testimony, both oral and by demonstrating the defendant’s physical treatment of the child. Dessinger argues the District Court erred by excluding only the child’s verbal, not the nonverbal, assertions as inadmissible hearsay evidence.

State v. Fontenot

 Argued Nov. 18.

Issue: Was a video interview with an alleged victim inadmissible hearsay evidence?

Timothy Fontenot seeks further review of a June 3 Iowa Court of Appeals ruling affirming his convictions by a jury in Linn County District Court on two counts of indecent contact with a child. Fontenot argues that a video of a forensic interview with the alleged victim amounted to hearsay and should not have been admitted at trial.

State v. Zacarias

 Submitted to the Court Feb. 17.

Issue: Was a jury instruction based on a definition of “penetration of genitalia with an object” that is not supported by law?

Zachary Zacarias appeals from his conviction by a Polk County jury on a charge of assault by penetration of genitalia or anus with an object in violation of Iowa Code Sections 708.1 and 708.2(5). Zacarias argues the guilty verdict and judgment against him were based on an improper jury instruction that allowed the jury to convict him of assault by penetration of genitalia with an object based on a definition of an object that was not supported by law. Zacarias also argues he was prevented from fully impeaching the complaining witness’ testimony, and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel failed to object to prosecutorial misconduct.

State v. Holmes

 Submitted to the Court March 24.

Issue: Does an offender serving a life sentence have a reasonable ability to pay all restitution amounts?

Thomas Deshawn Holmes appeals the Black Hawk County District Court’s denial of his motion challenging a restitution order following his conviction and sentence to life in prison for kidnapping and robbery. Holmes’ restitution order, which included $15,260 for the Victim Assistance Program, $6,042 for court costs, and $25,453 for attorney fees, contained no reference to whether Holmes had the ability to pay those amounts. Holmes argues that, since no court has issued a finding that he has a reasonable ability to pay restitution, the Supreme Court should remand his case to the District Court for a hearing to determine whether he has the reasonable ability to pay all restitution amounts.


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