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Barnes v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 27, 2017

CHANCE BARNES, Applicant-Appellant,
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Paul L. Macek, Judge.

         The defendant appeals the denial of his motions to amend his postconviction application and continue the postconviction hearing to obtain discovery and the summary dismissal of his third postconviction application.

          Zeke R. McCartney of Reynolds & Kenline, L.L.P., Dubuque, for appellant.]\

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Linda J. Hines, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Heard by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.


         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         In 2002, a jury convicted Chance Barnes of one count of murder in the first degree and one count of willful injury. Two codefendants also were charged for the crimes. Barnes testified at trial that he had been near the location of the murder but had not participated. The court sentenced Barnes to life in prison plus ten years. Barnes timely appealed the conviction, arguing counsel was ineffective and the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict. In 2003, a panel of our court affirmed the conviction but preserved Barnes's ineffective-assistance claim for postconviction relief. See State v. Barnes, No. 02-1363, 2003 WL 22340208, at *2-3 (Iowa Ct. App. Oct. 15, 2003).

         Barnes filed several postconviction applications between 2004 and 2015. In 2004, Barnes filed his first application for postconviction relief making various ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims. In 2009, Barnes's court-appointed counsel filed an amended application for postconviction relief, narrowing the issues originally raised. Trial was held on Barnes's first application, and relief was denied on all claims. In April 2010, Barnes appealed the first postconviction court's ruling. A panel of our court affirmed the postconviction court's ruling on all claims. See Barnes v. State, No. 10-0734, 2012 WL 4100663, at *3 (Iowa Ct. App. Sept. 19, 2012).

         Barnes filed his second application for postconviction relief on March 20, 2012, [1] and the State filed an answer on April 4, 2012. Barnes filed amendments to his second application for postconviction relief in January and November 2013. In August 2013, the State received a letter and affidavit from John Mahogany, claiming information from Barnes's codefendant, Lawrence McCoy, indicated that Barnes did not participate in the murder of which he was convicted. The State sent the information to Barnes's attorney, but Barnes did not raise the issue of newly discovered evidence in his November 2013 amended applications. On January 16, 2014, Barnes filed a motion to continue in order to file an amended application to include information regarding the new evidence. The second postconviction court denied the motion to continue.

         On January 17, the hearing was held on Barnes's second application for postconviction relief, and the State requested the court dismiss the amended applications because Barnes failed to seek leave to amend from the court. The State also requested summary disposition of the application. In response, Barnes again requested a continuance to present newly discovered evidence. The second postconviction court sustained the State's request to dismiss the amended application, and the court granted the State's motion for summary disposition on January 24, 2014. In its ruling, the court stated:

As to [Barnes's] request for a continuance of these proceedings to allow newly-discovered evidence, that request must be denied also. The court explained to [Barnes] if he wished to pursue grounds for postconviction relief for the reason of newly discovered evidence, he would have to file a new petition.

         Barnes did not appeal.

         About a month later, on February 17, Barnes filed his third application for postconviction relief, the subject of this appeal. In this application, Barnes claimed, "PCR appellate counsel was Ineffective for failing to properly Investigate Issues and Incompetent handling of Proceedings-the Judgment is in violation of the Due Process Clause of both the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution." The State filed an answer on July 28, 2014, and one year later, on June 3, 2015, the State filed a motion for summary dismissal. The motion for summary dismissal elaborated on the claims made in each of Barnes's applications and argued each claim had been litigated and decided.

         On July 30, one day before the summary-dismissal hearing, Barnes filed a resistance to the State's motion, arguing he had newly discovered evidence in the form of an affidavit-the same claim mentioned during the second postconviction proceedings but not raised in either proceeding-that stated the affiant had heard from codefendant McCoy that Barnes was present near the murder scene but not directly involved in the murder. The hearing was continued to September 15, 2015.

         On August 10, 2015, Barnes's counsel filed an amended application for postconviction relief and a motion to continue the scheduled September hearing. In the amended application, counsel attached the affidavit referenced in Barnes's resistance to the State's summary dismissal motion. Barnes also filed a pro se motion for expert witness. In his motion he asked the court to appoint an expert investigator at the State's expense to pursue "information that trial counsel failed to develop" that is "exculpatory in nature." The State resisted the motion for appointment of an expert, arguing the motion for summary dismissal is dispositive of the issues and Barnes did not allege sufficient grounds in his motion for hiring an investigator.

         The third postconviction court held a hearing on September 15, 2015, [2] and entered an order denying Barnes's attempt to amend the application and granting the State's motion for summary dismissal. In its order the court stated, "All of the claims raised in the Application have previously been adjudicated in the previous appeals and postconviction proceedings." The postconviction court further held:

[Barnes] requests the application be amended by adding a claim that there is "newly discovered evidence in the form of a statement made by his co-defendant to another inmate that [Barnes] was not involved in the death of Jonathon Johnson." In support of that allegation, applicant attached an affidavit of John Mahogany dated July 8, 2013. The Court finds that this information was available to [Barnes] during his previous postconviction case and if it had merit, should have been raised therein pursuant to Iowa Code § 822.8.

         The postconviction court added, "There has not been any reason given by [Barnes] why this claim was not raised in the previous postconviction action." Barnes appealed.

         II. ...

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