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State v. Hernandez-Galarza

Supreme Court of Iowa

May 22, 2015

STATE OF IOWA, Appellee,
v.
VICTOR HERNANDEZ-GALARZA, Appellant

On review from the Iowa Court of Appeals. Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Odell McGhee, Judge. Petitioner appeals the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus.

Benjamin D. Bergmann of Parrish Kruidenier Dunn Boles Gribble & Gentry LLP, Des Moines, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kevin R. Cmelik and Alexandra Link, Assistant Attorneys General, John P. Sarcone, County Attorney, and Kevin D. Hathaway, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

OPINION

Page 123

ZAGER, Justice.

Victor Hernandez-Galarza appeals the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. He maintains he received ineffective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I, section 10 of the Iowa Constitution due to counsel's failure to adequately inform him of adverse immigration consequences resulting from his guilty plea to the charge of fraudulent practice in the fourth degree. See Iowa Code § 714.12 (2011). He asserts that at the time he entered his guilty plea he was " subject to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement [(ICE)] detainer," he is now " subject to deportation proceedings," and because of his guilty plea he is " ineligible for cancelation of removal" proceedings under federal immigration law. He claims that absent counsel's deficient advice, he would not have pled guilty to the charge of fraudulent practice in the fourth degree.

Page 124

The district court summarily denied Hernandez-Galarza's habeas petition. Hernandez-Galarza appealed, and we transferred the case to the court of appeals. The court of appeals affirmed the district court judgment. Hernandez-Galarza applied for further review, which we granted. For the reasons set forth below, we conclude the district court properly denied the petition for writ of habeas corpus. We affirm the decision of the court of appeals and the judgment of the district court.

I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

On August 2, 2011, Hernandez-Galarza approached Polk County Investigator Don Sharr. Hernandez-Galarza informed Investigator Sharr he was " willing to turn himself into the Department of Transportation for using a false social security number to title vehicles in Iowa." Upon further investigation, Investigator Sharr discovered Hernandez-Galarza had used a false social security number to apply for certificates of title for three separate vehicles. However, because of his " willingness to surrender," Investigator Sharr agreed to charge Hernandez-Galarza with only one count of fraudulent practice in the third degree in violation of Iowa Code section 714.11(3) and one count of fraudulent applications in violation of Iowa Code section 321.97. Thereafter, Hernandez-Galarza signed a written statement admitting that " [o]n or about July 26, 2010, . . . [he] used a false social security number to apply . . . for [a] certificate of title for a motor vehicle."

On August 10, 2011, law enforcement filed a preliminary complaint charging Hernandez-Galarza with one count of fraudulent practice in the third degree and one count of fraudulent applications for " falsely us[ing] a social security number not assigned to [him] to make a false application for an [I]owa certificate of title." The State filed a trial information charging Hernandez-Galarza with one count of fraudulent applications. See Iowa Code § 321.97. The State later orally amended the trial information to charge Hernandez-Galarza with one count of fraudulent practice in the third degree. See id. § 714.11(3).

On October 21, Hernandez-Galarza entered a written guilty plea to the reduced charge of fraudulent practice in the fourth degree in violation of Iowa Code section 714.12. Contained within the written guilty plea was the following bolded paragraph: " I understand that if I am not a citizen of the United States that a criminal conviction or deferred judgment may result in deportation or other adverse immigration consequences under federal immigration laws." Both Hernandez-Galarza and his attorney signed and acknowledged this written guilty plea. In its sentencing order, the district court granted Hernandez-Galarza a deferred judgment. It also placed him on probation for a period of one year, supervised by the Iowa Department of Corrections (DOC).

On February 14, 2012, the district court entered a probation discharge order. The district court ordered that the " defendant is hereby discharged from probation" and " the Court's criminal records with reference to the [defendant's] deferred judgment shall be expunged."

On March 12, 2013, Hernandez-Galarza filed the subject " Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, or in the alternative, Petition for Writ of Coram Nobis" in district court. In the petition, he alleged he received ineffective assistance of counsel under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article I, section 10 of the Iowa Constitution. This claim is based on counsel's alleged failure to adequately inform

Page 125

him of adverse immigration consequences resulting from his guilty plea to the charge of fraudulent practice in the fourth degree and the corresponding deferred judgment. Specifically, Hernandez-Galarza maintained that at the time he entered his guilty plea he was " subject to a[n] . . . [ICE] detainer," he is now " subject to deportation proceedings," and because of his guilty plea he is " ineligible for cancelation of removal" proceedings under federal immigration law as he no longer qualifies for the petty-offense exception codified at 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(2)(A)(ii)(II) (2012).[1] Hernandez-Galarza claims that absent counsel's deficient advice, he would not have pled guilty to the charge of fraudulent practice in the fourth degree.

With respect to his habeas petition, Hernandez-Galarza pled the following facts:

a. The application for the writ of habeas corpus is filed on behalf of Victor Hernandez Galarza.
b. Mr. Hernandez is collaterally subject to the restraint of the consequences of the outcome of Polk County Case . . . captioned State of Iowa v. Victor Hernandez Galarza. The outcome in this case was a result of ineffective assistance of counsel by trial counsel, specifically by trial counsel's failure to adequately advise Mr. Hernandez of the immigration consequences of his guilty plea, as required by Padilla.[2]
c. The consequences of the guilty plea are in violation of Mr. Hernandez's United States Constitutional Rights under Amendments 5, 6 and 14, and article one, section ten of the Iowa Constitution, due to ineffective assistance of counsel.
d. No court or tribunal has previously adjudicated the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel in any proceeding.
e. No application for writ of habeas corpus has been previously made or refused by any court.

On May 8, the district court summarily denied the petition for writ of habeas corpus.[3] The district court explained,

This Court finds that A Petition for Habeas Corpus is concerned with " unlawful detention," that is detention lacking sufficient cause or evidence. . . . This Court can find no evidence of arbitrary state action and further can find no evidence of illegal detention. Also, Section 822.1 . . . [of] the Code provides that Habeas Corpus does not apply to a person who has been sentenced for a public offense. Therefore, Habeas Corpus relief is DENIED.

Hernandez-Galarza appealed, and we transferred the case to the court of appeals. The court of appeals determined the habeas petition failed to comply with the pleading requirements of Iowa Code section 663.1(1) by failing to specify how, where, or by whom Hernandez-Galarza was detained. The court of appeals also noted that Hernandez-Galarza was no longer arguably in the custody of the State of Iowa because any alleged sentence had expired. Accordingly, he could no longer challenge his state deferred judgment by a writ of habeas corpus.

Page 126

Hernandez-Galarza applied for further review, which we granted.

II. Standard of Review.

Habeas corpus proceedings are actions at law and are generally reviewable for corrections of errors at law. See Iowa R. App. P. 6.907; Cummings v. Lainson, 239 Iowa 1193, 1196, 33 N.W.2d 395, 397 (1948) (" The writ of habeas corpus does not invoke the court's equitable powers and the appeal is not de novo . . . ." ). However, we review claims of ineffective assistance of counsel de novo. Daughenbaugh v. State, 805 N.W.2d 591, 593 (Iowa 2011).

III. Overview of Issue Presented.

A. Collateral Consequences.

There has recently been an increase in what is typically referred to as " collateral consequences" that flow from a criminal conviction. Id ...


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