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Peppers v. State

Court of Appeal of Iowa

November 20, 2013

ERIC PEPPERS, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Douglas S. Russell, Judge.

Eric Peppers appeals the district court's dismissal of his second application for postconviction relief.

Lars G. Anderson of Holland & Anderson, L.L.P., Iowa City, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Sheryl A. Soich, Assistant Attorney General, Janet M. Lyness, County Attorney, and Susan Nehring, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee State.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and Doyle, JJ.

VAITHESWARAN, J.

Eric Peppers appeals the district court's dismissal of his second application for postconviction relief. Peppers contends his speedy trial rights were violated and his first postconviction attorney was ineffective in failing to raise the claim.

I. Background Proceedings

In 1999, a jury found Peppers guilty of second-degree sexual abuse, false imprisonment, and domestic abuse assault while displaying a dangerous weapon. Peppers filed a direct appeal from his judgment and sentence in which he contended that his trial attorney was ineffective in failing to assert a violation of his right to a speedy trial. See Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.33(2)(b). This court preserved the claim for possible postconviction relief proceedings. State v. Peppers, No. 00-283, 2001 WL 810740, at *3 (Iowa Ct. App. July 18, 2001).

Peppers filed a postconviction relief application raising several issues, including the claimed speedy trial violation. An attorney subsequently appointed to represent him filed a document waiving the speedy trial issue. The attorney mailed a copy of the document to Peppers. Following an evidentiary hearing, the district court filed an order noting, in part, that the speedy trial claim appeared to have been waived. The court denied the application and this court affirmed. See Peppers v. State, No. 07-0865, 2008 WL 2042504, at *2-3 (Iowa Ct. App. May 14, 2008).[1]

In 2012, Peppers filed a second postconviction relief application alleging that first postconviction counsel was ineffective in failing to raise the speedy-trial claim. The State moved to dismiss the application on the ground that it was time-barred. The district court granted the motion and this appeal followed.

II. Statute of Limitations

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." Procedendo issued in 2001 and Peppers' second postconviction relief application was not filed until 2012. Therefore, the application was time-barred unless it fell within a statutory exception for "a ground of fact or law that could not have been raised within the applicable time period." Iowa Code § 822.3.

The Iowa Supreme Court addressed this exception in Wilkins v. State, 522 N.W.2d 822, 824 (Iowa 1994). There, the State was granted permission to appeal the denial of its motion asserting that Wilkins' second application for postconviction relief was time barred. Wilkins, who had raised a claim that his attorneys were ineffective in failing to preserve a shirt for ballistics testing, argued that his claim was not time ...


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