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Flores v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 5, 2013

IVAN FLORES, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Plymouth County, Jeffrey L. Poulson, Judge.

Ivan Flores appeals the district court's dismissal of his application for postconviction relief.

Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Martha Lucey, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Tyler J. Buller, Assistant Attorney General, Darin J. Raymond, County Attorney, and Mathias Robinson, Student Legal Intern, for appellee.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Mullins and McDonald, JJ.

VOGEL, P.J.

Ivan Flores appeals the district court's dismissal of his application for postconviction relief, asserting the district court erred in failing to address all of the claims raised in his petition, and further erred in finding trial counsel was not ineffective. Flores also argues postconviction relief counsel was ineffective for failing to amend the petition to challenge trial counsel's erroneous advice regarding total punishment and failing to assure the district court ruled on all issues presented by Flores. Because we conclude the district court adequately addressed all claims raised by Flores and correctly found trial counsel was not ineffective, nor was postconviction relief counsel ineffective, we affirm.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

On April 3, 2009, Flores pleaded guilty to robbery in the first degree, in violation of Iowa Code sections 711.1 and 711.2 (2009). This charge was based on the events of January 18, 2009, when Flores and some of his friends broke into an apartment "to get money." One assailant carried a knife, one had a box cutter, and Flores carried a hatchet. At some point during the incident, one of the residents was threatened with the box cutter. All suspects were apprehended in the getaway car, and a five-inch fixed-blade knife as well as a hatchet were recovered.

Subsequent to his plea, Flores was sentenced to a term of incarceration not to exceed twenty-five years. He moved for reconsideration of his sentence, arguing the knife that was recovered did not constitute a "dangerous weapon, " undermining the factual basis for his plea. His motion was denied, and Flores did not file a direct appeal.

On August 26, 2009, Flores filed a pro se application for postconviction relief, after which counsel was appointed. The application asserted trial counsel was ineffective and that there was no factual basis for the plea. The district court denied the application, and Flores appeals.

II. Standard of Review

We review the dismissal of an application for postconviction relief for correction of errors at law. Castro v. State, 795 N.W.2d 789, 792 (Iowa 2011). With regard to Flores's claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, we review those claims de novo. Id. To succeed on an ineffective-assistance claim, the defendant must show, first, that counsel breached an essential duty, and second, that he was prejudiced by counsel's failure. State v. Straw, 709 N.W.2d 128, 133 (Iowa 2006). Under the first prong, counsel's performance is measured "against the standard of a reasonably competent practitioner with the presumption that the attorney performed his duties in a competent manner." Id. (internal citations omitted). It is the defendant's burden to prove both prongs by a preponderance of the evidence, and if the defendant fails to establish prejudice, his claim may be disposed of on ...


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