Latrice Lacey's three-year odyssey through the justice system opened another chapter Thursday as her appeal of a 2019 misdemeanor harassment conviction was heard by the Iowa Supreme Court.
Lacey, Davenport's civil rights director, was convicted because she confronted her former boyfriend Clyde Richardson outside a Davenport business on April 30, 2018. The Scott County Attorney's office argued Lacey threatened bodily harm against Richardson during what became a physical altercation.
The Scott County Attorney based that charge on the testimony of a witness who heard the confrontation, but did not see it.
In his opening argument, Lacey's attorney Kent Simmons based the appeal on three points:
- There was insufficient evidence to convict Lacey of harassment.
- The Scott County court erred by not allowing Lacey to present evidence Richardson harassed and damaged her property in the months leading up to the incident.
- The Scott County court both "abused its discretion in refusing to continue sentencing," as well as abused "its discretion in imposing a sentence."
Representing the state, lawyer Louis Sloven argued the Scott County Court has the authority to impose sentencing. He said evidence showing Richardson as previously abusive and threatening only "serves to paint the victim as a bad guy."
Sloven also backed Scott County's argument that held Lacey was on trial for the events of the day — prior events did not justify her actions.
Simmons argued Lacey confronted Richardson outside his workplace to put an end to threats and damage to her property. He said Lacey had justified reasons to believe Richardson was at her house early that morning and smashed out the front and rear windows of her husband's car.
The justices peppered Simmons and Sloven with questions.
Chief Justice Susan Christensen asked Simmons why Lacey confronted Richardson "... and poked the bear. Why did she poke the bear?" Christensen later suggested Lacey escalated the confrontation of April 30, 2018.
Justice Christopher McDonald also questioned why Lacey went to Richardson's workplace.
Justice Edward Mansfield questioned why a more complete portrait of Richardson's interactions with Lacey were not included in evidence. Mansfield said a number of Richardson's texts where "monstrous" and threatening.
It is not known when the justices will issue an opinion.
Lacey's path to the state's highest court took a number of turns.
The harassment charge was one of four that followed the incident. Lacey faced trial three times in Scott County. She was only convicted of one of four misdemeanor charges.
Lacey's first trial was held in September 2019 — at that time a jury convicted her of one count of misdemeanor harassment. But the jury of nine women and three men could not reach a unanimous verdict on three counts of domestic abuse assault, all misdemeanors, prompting Judge Stuart Werling to declare a mistrial on those counts.
Werling sentenced Lacey to one year in jail, as well as a fine of $315 and court costs. The jail sentence was suspended and Lacey was placed on probation for one year. Lacey appealed the conviction.
Lacey's second trial on the three misdemeanor assault charges again ended with a hung jury and a mistrial.
In October, Lacey was tried in front of another Scott County jury and found not guilty of the three misdemeanor assault charges.