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Meeker v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 12, 2014

MICHAEL MEEKER, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee

Editorial Note:

This decision is published in table format in the North Western Reporter.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Hamilton County, James C. Ellefson, Judge. Michael Meeker appeals from the dismissal of his application for postconviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel at his guiltyplea; he also argues ineffective assistance of postconviction counsel prevented him from preserving all of his claims.

Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, Robert P. Ranschau, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Benjamin M. Parrott, Assistant Attorney General, and Patrick Chambers, County Attorney, for appellee State.

Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

OPINION

POTTERFIELD, P.J.

Michael Meeker appeals from the dismissal of his application for postconviction relief. He argues trial counsel was ineffective when counsel allowed him to submit a guilty plea to second-degree murder without a sufficient factual basis and while his mental state rendered his plea involuntary. He further argues on appeal that postconviction counsel was ineffective in failing to raise the claim that trial counsel was ineffective in not correcting the guilty-plea record after the court failed to inform him of the second-degree murder element of malice aforethought. We affirm.

I. Facts and Proceedings.

Michael Meeker was charged by trial information in 2009 with first-degree murder of a child and child endangerment resulting in the death of a fifteen-month-old child. During pretrial depositions, Meeker agreed to plead guilty to second-degree murder, pursuant to a plea agreement. On October 28, 2009, a guilty-plea hearing was held. The court engaged Meeker in a colloquy to determine whether his plea was knowing, voluntary, and intelligent, but referred to the elements of the original charge of murder of a child, including extreme indifference to human life, rather than to the elements of second-degree murder, including malice aforethought. In response to questioning, Meeker admitted to losing his temper and hitting the child on the head multiple times resulting in the child's death. The court accepted Meeker's guilty plea to the amended charge of second-degree murder.

Meeker did not file a motion in arrest of judgment, and did not directly appeal from these proceedings. He filed an application for postconviction relief on October 7, 2011. He argued the factual basis for his plea was improperly established by his attorney, rather than the court and his plea was not voluntary due to his consumption of medication and isolation in jail. A hearing on the application was held October 3, 2012. Meeker and his guilty-plea counsel testified as to the events surrounding the guilty plea. The court took judicial notice of the criminal file, including a transcript of the guilty plea proceedings. The court denied the application, finding a factual basis for the crime of second-degree murder in Meeker's admissions and crediting the testimony of guilty-plea counsel regarding Meeker's mental state.

II. Analysis.

We review ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims de novo. State v. Straw, 709 ...


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