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Case No. 20-0786

James Farnsworth II.
State of Iowa

James Farnsworth appeals from the denial of his application for postconviction relief, arguing his criminal trial counsel provided ineffective assistance, among other things, by failing to employ an expert pathologist and not objecting to the prosecutor’s closing argument stating the jury did not need to be unanimous on the issue of justification.

Cerro Gordo


James Farnsworth II.


State of Iowa

Attorney for the Resister

Philip B. Mears

Attorney for the Applicant

Kyle Hanson

Supreme Court

Oral Argument Schedule


Sep 14, 2022 9:00 AM


Supreme Court Opinion

Opinion Number:
Date Published:
Nov 18, 2022

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Opinion

Opinion Number:
Date Published:
Nov 03, 2021

            Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, Christopher C. Foy, Judge.  AFFIRMED IN PART, REVERSED IN PART, AND REMANDED.  Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Greer and Schumacher, JJ.  Opinion by Vaitheswaran, P.J.  (15 pages)

            James Farnsworth II appeals the district court’s denial of several ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims raised in his postconviction-relief application following a jury trial conviction of second-degree murder, including: (1) counsel’s failure to retain a forensic pathologist; (2) counsel’s failure to state the standard of proof in closing arguments; (3) counsel’s failure to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence; and (4) several other ineffective-assistance grounds that “cumulatively establish the necessary prejudice,” including counsel’s failure to object to the court’s application of the cash portion to Farnsworth’s restitution obligation.  OPINION HOLDS: We affirm the district court’s denial of all the ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims except Farnsworth’s claim that his attorney should have objected to the forfeiture of the $50,000 cash bond.  We reverse the district court’s denial of his claim on that ground and remand for return of $50,000 to Farnsworth.

Other Information

Date Further Review is Granted:
Mar 01, 2022

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