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State v. Shanahan

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 19, 2017

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
TIMOTHY SHANAHAN, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Appanoose County, Rose Anne Mefford, District Associate Judge.

         Timothy Shanahan appeals the sentence imposed following his guilty plea to second-degree fraudulent practice. AFFIRMED.

          Denise M. Gonyea of McKelvie Law Office, Grinnell, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Darrel Mullins, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

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

          DOYLE, Judge.

         From September 2012 to August 2014, Timothy Shanahan was charged in six cases with numerous offenses, including two second-degree-fraudulent-practice charges. In February 2015, Shanahan entered into a plea agreement with the State, wherein he agreed to plead guilty to one of the second-degree-fraudulent-practice charges and to pay restitution in all six cases in exchange for the dismissal of the remaining five cases. See State v. Shanahan, No. 15-0936, 2016 WL 1703342, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Apr. 27, 2016). The agreement included an indeterminate five-year prison sentence, not suspended, and payment of associated costs. The court accepted Shanahan's guilty plea and ultimately sentenced him to a term of incarceration not to exceed five years pursuant to the plea agreement, as well as ordering that he make restitution as agreed. See id.

         Shanahan then appealed, arguing, among other things, that the district court considered impermissible factors in determining his sentence. See id. Specifically, he maintained the court impermissibly considered his dismissed charges in fashioning his sentence. See id. A majority of the reviewing panel of this court agreed and remanded the case back to the district court for resentencing. See id.

         After the remand, Shanahan filed a motion in district court seeking recusal of the presiding judge-the same judge that had entered his prior sentence. He believed "it would be fundamentally unfair" if the same judge sentenced him, based upon the outcome of his appeal. The State resisted, arguing there was no evidence the court was prejudiced, particularly in light of the fact that the plea agreement made by Shanahan included a prison sentence. The court denied Shanahan's motion, stating: "The court does recall that the court followed the plea agreement that [Shanahan] had reached in the matter when I sentenced him previously. That's about all I recall from that, and the court has no bias against [Shanahan], has not predisposed what I will do today."

         The court proceeded to resentencing. The State requested the court follow the parties' plea agreement, including that Shanahan be sentenced to an indeterminate term not to exceed five years. Shanahan requested the sentencing recommendation of the Eighth Judicial District Department of Corrections be followed, which recommended that all but thirty days of Shanahan's sentence be suspended and that Shanahan be placed on probation. The court then sentenced Shanahan to a term not to exceed five years and to pay the related costs and restitution. The court explained its "judgment relative to sentence [was] based on that which would provide maximum opportunity for [Shanahan's] rehabilitation and at the same time protect the community from further offenses by [him] and others." The court further stated:

I have selected this particular sentence for you after considering your age, your prior criminal record, your employment, family circumstances, nature of the offense committed and harm to the victim, whether a weapon or force was used in the commission of the offense, and your need for rehabilitation and potential for rehabilitation, and the necessity of protecting the community from further offenses by you and others; further, the plea agreement that was reached in this matter.

         The court then asked Shanahan if this was what he "expected to happen today, " to which Shanahan replied, "Yes, Your Honor."

         Shanahan now appeals. He argues the district court erred in not granting his motion for recusal. He also contends that the court failed to provide adequate reasons for imposing the maximum sentence allowed and that a five-year prison sentence was "substantively unreasonable in this case." We address his arguments in turn.

         Motion ...


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