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Buenaventura v. State

Court of Appeal of Iowa

September 18, 2013

JOHN BUENAVENTURA, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Stephen B. Jackson Jr., Judge.

A postconviction relief applicant contends the district court erred in dismissing his application as time-barred.

Caitlin L. Slessor of Nazette, Marner, Nathanson & Shea, L.L.P., Cedar Rapids, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Linda J. Hines, Assistant Attorney General, Jerry Vander Sanden, County Attorney, and Robert Hruska, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee State.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Doyle, JJ.

VAITHESWARAN, J.

We must decide whether a postconviction relief application is time-barred.

I. Background Proceedings

The State charged John Buenaventura with first-degree murder in connection with the death of his sister-in-law. At his trial, two jail mates, Herlie Johnson and Lamont Brandon, testified that he confessed to the crime. A jury found Buenaventura guilty as charged and the Iowa Supreme Court affirmed his judgment and sentence. See State v. Buenaventura, 660 N.W.2d 38, 52 (Iowa 2003). Procedendo issued in 2003.

In the intervening years, Buenaventura filed an application for postconviction relief and a habeas corpus petition. The district court denied the postconviction relief application, and this court affirmed the ruling. See Buenaventura v. State, No. 05-1493, 2006 WL 2419194, at *8 (Iowa Ct. App. Aug. 23, 2006). The habeas corpus petition was also denied. Buenaventura v. Burt, No. 07-CV-34-LRR, 2010 WL 1250920, at *2-3 (N.D. Iowa Mar. 23, 2010).

Buenaventura filed a second application for postconviction relief in 2010. Following an evidentiary hearing, the district court denied the application on several grounds, including that it was untimely.

On appeal, Buenaventura raises the following arguments: (1) "the court improperly dismissed the application as time barred" and (2) "newly discovered letters were material and probably would have changed the result of trial." We find the first issue dispositive.

II. Timeliness of Application

Iowa Code section 822.3 (2011) states, in part, that applications for postconviction relief "must be filed within three years from the date the conviction or decision is final or, in the event of an appeal, from the date the writ of procedendo is issued." As noted, procedendo issued in 2003, and the second postconviction relief application was not filed until 2010. Accordingly, the application was time-barred unless it fell within a statutory exception for "a ground of ...


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