from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Marsha A.
applicant appeals from the denial of his application for
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Theresa R. Wilson,
Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Genevieve Reinkoester,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., Mullins, J., and Blane, S.J.
August 2013, following four days of trial for first-degree
murder, Justin Ross entered into a plea deal and pleaded
guilty to attempt to commit murder, a class "B"
felony, in violation of Iowa Code section 707.11 (2011). Ross
was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison with a 70%
mandatory minimum, with credit for time served. Ross did not
February 2014, Ross filed an application for postconviction
relief (PCR). The matter proceeded to hearing in January
2016. On May 31, the district court issued a ruling denying
Ross's application. The court found there was a factual
basis for Ross's plea and his plea was voluntarily and
intelligently made. Ross now appeals.
appeal, Ross contends his trial attorneys pressured him into
entering a plea and the court failed to explain the intent
element of attempt to commit murder. As a result, he argues,
his plea was involuntary.
did not file a motion in arrest of judgment or a notice of
appeal following his guilty plea and sentencing. As a result,
he did not preserve error on claims related to his guilty
plea. See State v. Keene, 630 N.W.2d 579, 581 (Iowa
2001). However, he frames his argument within the rubric of
an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim by arguing his
counsel was ineffective for allowing him to enter an
involuntary plea. "This is an exception to our error
preservation requirement." Id.
review claims of ineffective assistance of counsel de novo.
State v. Straw, 709 N.W.2d 128, 133 (Iowa 2006). To
show ineffective assistance, Ross must demonstrate (1) his
counsel's representation fell below an objective standard
of reasonableness and (2) prejudice resulted. See
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984). With
respect to the representation prong, we "indulge a
strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within
the wide range of reasonable professional assistance."
Id. at 689. To establish prejudice, Ross must show
"there is a reasonable probability that, but for the
counsel's professional errors, the result of the
proceeding would have been different." State v.
Carroll, 767 N.W.2d 638, 641 (Iowa 2009). In the context
of a guilty plea, this means "a reasonable probability
that, but for counsel's alleged errors, the applicant
would not have pled guilty and would have insisted on going
to trial." Id.
first argues he was coerced by counsel into entering the
guilty plea. At his PCR trial, Ross testified his attorneys
did not work with him and tried to induce him into pleading
guilty out of fear.
record belies Ross's claim. During the plea colloquy, the
following exchange took place:
THE COURT: Have you had enough time to talk to your lawyers
about this plea offer to the ...