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State of Iowa v. Robert Harold Rice

April 24, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ROBERT HAROLD RICE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Tama County, Douglas S. Russell (plea) and Marsha Beckelman (sentencing), Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Eisenhauer, C.J.

Defendant appeals his conviction arguing trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Danilson and Bower, JJ.

Robert Harold Rice entered a plea of guilty to four counts of third-degree burglary*fn1 pursuant to a written plea agreement under Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.10(2).*fn2 Rice agreed to join in the State's recommendation for three concurrent five-year sentences and one consecutive five-year sentence, and he agreed to make restitution. The State agreed to dismiss the remaining counts and to decline to file enhanced theft charges.*fn3 The prosecutor stated: "We're hoping to bind the court to the agreement in terms of the time and the incarceration. He'll make restitution for all of the offenses."

After Rice agreed to the terms of the plea, the court stated:

THE COURT: Now, I want to tell you about Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.10. This provides that at the time of sentencing the judge will have two options. It can . . . approve your plea agreement and make it the judgment of the Court or . . . reject your plea agreement. If . . . the Court rejects your plea agreement, then you would have a right to withdraw your guilty pleas and start over. Do you understand?

RICE: Yes.

THE COURT: All right. Now, I don't know without reading a presentence investigation report whether I would go with this plea agreement or not, but I want you to understand that those are the two things that may happen at the sentencing.

RICE: Okay. I understand.

The court issued an order stating Rice's guilty pleas were taken pursuant rule 2.10(2).

At the sentencing hearing, five people made victim impact statements.

Defense counsel stated he had fully discussed a rule 2.10 plea with Rice and "we are here to join in the recommendation made by the State in sentencing him to three concurrent counts and one consecutive count." Counsel also requested the court impose the minimum fines and suspend the fines "because we have agreed to incarceration."

The court asked Rice if he would like to make a statement while noting it "was rule 2.10 plea, and the sentence that was agreed upon is binding upon the court." After Rice's statement, the court sentenced him in accordance with the plea agreement, stating one reason for the sentence is "the guilty plea . . . was a plea taken pursuant to rule 2.10(2) of the Iowa Rules of Criminal Procedure." The court suspended the minimum fines and ordered restitution.

Rice appeals and argues trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance during the sentencing hearing by failing to object to four victim impact statements made by people allegedly not qualifying as victims under Iowa Code section 915.10(3) (2011). Rice asserts the court might have imposed a more lenient sentence if ...


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