Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Glenn E. Pille, Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Miller, S.J.
Applicant appeals the district court decision denying his application for post-conviction relief from his conviction for assault. AFFIRMED.
Considered by Danilson, P.J., Bower, J., and Miller, S.J.* *Senior judge assigned by order pursuant to Iowa Code section 602.9206 (2013).
I. Background Facts & Proceedings
Jesus Cordova was charged with domestic abuse assault, in violation of Iowa Code section 708.2A(2)(a) (2005), a simple misdemeanor. Cordova's primary language is Spanish. A Spanish-speaking interpreter was present for his initial appearance and pre-trial conference.
On October 23, 2006, Cordova entered a guilty plea to assault, in violation of Iowa Code section 708.2(6), a simple misdemeanor. An interpreter, Anna Pottebaum, submitted a claim for having provided one hour of services in Cordova's case on October 23, 2006. Cordova was immediately sentenced after his guilty plea to two days in jail, with credit given for two days served. He was also ordered to attend an assaultive behavior class. Cordova later submitted a certificate showing he had completed the class on March 24, 2007.
On October 6, 2009, Cordova filed an application for post-conviction relief. He claimed his conviction should be overturned because he did not receive assistance from an interpreter at his guilty plea proceeding. A Spanish-speaking interpreter was appointed for him for the post-conviction proceedings.
At the post-conviction hearing, held on August 5, 2010, Cordova testified he did not have an interpreter present during the guilty plea proceeding on October 23, 2006. He stated he was not able to understand everything that happened in the courtroom that day. Cordova stated he had completed the assaultive behavior class.
Pottebaum testified she was a self-employed court interpreter. She did not have any specific memory of interpreting for Cordova on October 23, 2006. She indicated, however, that she had filled out a form showing that she had worked as an interpreter on Cordova's case that day. The case number on the form was SM 284811, the number of Cordova's criminal case, and his name, Jesus Cordova, was on the form. Pottebaum had signed the form, it had been approved by the State Public Defender's office, and had been initialed by the judge who had presided over the guilty plea proceeding.
The district court entered a decision denying Cordova's application for post-conviction relief. The court specifically found Cordova's testimony was not credible.*fn1 The court determined the evidence showed that Cordova did have the assistance of a Spanish-speaking interpreter at the time of the guilty plea proceeding. The court noted that Cordova signed the plea and followed through with the requirements of the sentence. Cordova now appeals.
In general, we review the district court's denial of an application for post-conviction relief for the correction of errors at law. Lamasters v. State, 821 N.W.2d 856, 862 (Iowa 2012). When an applicant raises claims of a constitutional nature, however, our review is de novo. Id. To establish a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, an applicant must show (1) the attorney failed to perform an essential duty, and (2) prejudice resulted to the extent it denied applicant a fair trial. State v. Carroll, 767 N.W.2d 638, 641 (Iowa 2008).
Cordova contends he is entitled to post-conviction relief because the record does not support a finding that he had the assistance of an interpreter at the guilty plea proceeding. He asserts his guilty plea was not voluntary and intelligent because he did not have sufficient understanding of the proceeding due to the fact he was not proficient in English. Cordova asserts that based on ...