from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Sean W.
McPartland (guilty plea) and Ian K. Thornhill (sentencing),
defendant appeals his burglary conviction, contending he was
prejudiced by faulty advice from counsel about the
immigration consequences of his guilty plea. CONVICTION AND
SENTENCE VACATED; CASE REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS.
J. Bishop, Cedar Rapids, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Jean C. Pettinger, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Doyle and Tabor, JJ.
Ali Abdelkarim Ali appeals his conviction for burglary in the
second degree, contending his attorney misinformed him
regarding the adverse immigration consequences of pleading
guilty and his plea was driven by a false hope that a
deferred judgment offered a chance to avoid removal from the
United States. Because the State does not dispute Ali
received misinformation, we consider only whether he suffered
prejudice. Finding "a decision to reject the plea
bargain would have been rational under the circumstances,
" we vacate Ali's guilty plea and remand for further
Facts and Prior Proceedings
State charged Ali and three codefendants with attempt to
commit murder and robbery in the first degree in connection
with a shooting at a Coralville residence on June 22, 2015.
The State alleged "Ali helped the defendants gain access
to a residence; then the defendants rushed into that
residence demanding to know 'where's it
at?'" "It" referred to marijuana they
planned to steal, according to the minutes of evidence. After
rushing into the residence, one of Ali's codefendants
fired a .40 caliber pistol, striking a victim in the hip,
"causing a through-and-through bullet wound." The
State expected to offer testimony that "[t]he defendants
all then fled the house, taking several cell phones; several
of the victims scattered as well."
eighteen years old at the time of the crime and a legal
permanent resident of the United States. After being charged
with two class "B" felonies, Ali struck a bargain
with the State, agreeing to plead guilty to burglary in the
second degree, a class "C" felony, in violation of
Iowa Code sections 713.1 and 713.5(1)(b) (2015), in return
for dismissal of the attempted murder and robbery counts.
day of the plea hearing, defense counsel filed a document
entitled "Citizenship Addendum to Plea of Guilty"
in which counsel outlined the detailed advice he provided Ali
concerning the "deportation or other adverse immigration
consequences" of the plea to second-degree burglary. At
issue is the following passage: "I have advised the
Defendant if he receives a deferred judgment at the open
sentencing in the above-captioned matter this scenario
provides the best opportunity to avoid deportation." The
addendum also stated that in making his guilty plea, Ali was
"relying on undersigned counsel's advice regarding
the immigration consequences." Counsel asserted the
addendum was filed "pursuant to Iowa Rule of Criminal
Procedure 2.8(2)(b)(5) and Padilla v.
to the presentence investigation (PSI) report, Ali's
parents brought him to the United States when he was five
years old. Ali's father described his son as "a
follower" whose friends were "a problem for
him." Ali's mother believed Ali's co-defendants
"would have killed him if he had not cooperated with
them." In recommending prison, the author of the PSI
report pointed to Ali's prior juvenile-delinquency
adjudications and the need to protect the public from violent
sentencing memorandum, defense counsel asserted Ali was born
in Syria to Sudanese immigrants "who were affiliated
with the Republican Brotherhood movement in Sudan."
The Republican Brotherhood was a liberal reform movement that
called for greater equality for women and non-Muslims.
Eventually the leader of the movement, Mahmud Muhammad Taha,
was executed after opposing the imposition of Sharia law, and
many of its members, including Ali's parents, fled Sudan.
Ali's parents fled first to Syria, where he was born, and
then eventually ended up in the United States. Ali's
parents settled in Iowa City where he attended school,
eventually graduating from ...