from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Douglas F.
Dupree Coates appeals from the denial of his application for
postconviction relief. AFFIRMED.
Anderson of the Law Office of Karmen Anderson, Des Moines,
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Vaitheswaran, JJ.
DANILSON, Chief Judge.
Dupree Coates pled guilty to second-degree murder and
first-degree robbery (offenses that occurred on different
dates) pursuant to a plea agreement in which the State agreed
to recommend concurrent sentences.
appeals from the denial of his application for postconviction
relief (PCR). Coates contends his first trial attorney, who
was replaced,  and his PCR counsel were ineffective. He
argues at length that the attorney who was replaced did not
follow ethical guidelines concerning a client having the
final word as to a trial defense. However, at the PCR trial
Coates was asked: "So is it fair to say we can remove
[the first trial counsel] from your petition and allegations
and just focus on [counsel who was substituted]?" Coates
responded, "Yes." Coates waived any claim
concerning his first trial counsel, and we will not address
those claims here. See DeVoss v. State, 648 N.W.2d
56, 63 (Iowa 2002) (finding State waived an issue).
asserts substitute counsel coerced him into pleading guilty
and his PCR counsel did not adequately present his case.
Generally, our review of PCR proceedings is for correction of
errors at law. Ledezma v. State, 626 N.W.2d 134, 141
(Iowa 2001). "However, when the applicant asserts claims
of a constitutional nature, our review is de novo. Thus, we
review claims of ineffective assistance of counsel de
prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, a
claimant must satisfy the Strickland [v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), ] test by showing
'(1) counsel failed to perform an essential duty; and (2)
prejudice resulted.'" State v. Clay, 824
N.W.2d 488, 495 (Iowa 2012) (citation omitted). "Both
elements must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence.
However, both elements do not always need to be addressed. If
the claim lacks prejudice, it can be decided on that ground
alone without deciding whether the attorney performed
deficiently." Ledezma, 626 N.W.2d at 142
plea hearing, the district court carefully conducted the plea
colloquy. Coates stated he was pleading guilty voluntarily
and that he was satisfied with his substitute plea
counsel's representation. His plea counsel informed the
court that possible defenses had been explored with Coates
and they had determined any defenses would not be successful.
When asked to provide the factual bases for his guilty pleas,
Coates stated, "I shot [the victim] intentionally in the
wee hours of November 2, 2011, " and "the end
result, the victim died." He also stated: "It was
probably about the afternoon of October 17th, 2011, I
intentionally went into the Valero gas station and went to
intentionally rob the Valero gas station . . . and I meant to
put the clerk in a great amount of fear." The court
found each plea was voluntary. The court imposed concurrent
prison terms in accordance with the plea agreement.
supreme court has stated, "[W]hen a postconviction
relief claim following a guilty plea is properly alleged, a
case-by-case analysis is necessary 'to determine whether
counsel in a particular case breached a duty in advance of a
guilty plea, and whether any such breach rendered the
defendant's plea unintelligent or involuntary.'"
Castro v. State, 795 N.W.2d 789, 793 (Iowa 2011)
(quoting State v. Carroll, 767 N.W.2d 638, 644 (Iowa
during his PCR trial, Coates confirmed he "made a
voluntary decision that it was better for [him] to accept a
plea than ask for a new attorney and fight for [his]
innocence." And he confirmed he knew how to express his
displeasure and request another attorney if he thought his
substitute counsel's performance was somehow deficient.
Upon our independent review of the circumstances, Coates
cannot show PCR counsel's performance prejudiced him in
any way. As the PCR court noted, Coates had previously
demonstrated that he "knew how to complain" about
attorneys "and was not shy about doing so."
Considering Coates' testimony and his affirmations of
voluntariness during his plea colloquy, he has failed to
establish substituted counsel "coerced" him to
plead guilty-that claim is contradicted by the record.
Moreover, as aptly observed by the PCR court,
Remarkably, [Coates'] attorneys secured a plea agreement
that resulted in Coates' avoiding a sentence of life
imprisonment without possibility of parole in a case where
the evidence of his guilt of murder was overwhelming. Beyond
that, the plea agreement essentially resulted in his not
serving any prison time for committing first degree robbery,
a crime completely separate and independent of the murder he
committed. Coates has fallen far short of proving any
ineffective assistance by his defense counsel in defending