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Thomas v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

September 27, 2017

RAYMOND E. THOMAS, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Michael D. Huppert, Judge.

         Raymond Thomas appeals from the summary dismissal of his second application for postconviction relief. AFFIRMED.

          Jessica Maffitt of Benzoni Law Office, P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant. Raymond E. Thomas, Fort Madison, pro se.

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

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., Doyle, J., and Mahan, S.J. [*]

          MAHAN, SENIOR JUDGE.

         Raymond Thomas appeals from the summary dismissal of his second application for postconviction relief (PCR).

         We generally review PCR proceedings for correction of errors at law. Nguyen v. State, 878 N.W.2d 744, 750 (Iowa 2016). However, when an applicant raises constitutional claims, such as claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, we apply a de novo review. See id.; Bonilla v. State, 791 N.W.2d 697, 699 (Iowa 2010).

         Summary disposition under Iowa Code section 822.6 (2011) is analogous to the summary judgment procedure provided in our rules of civil procedure. See State v. Manning, 654 N.W.2d 555, 559-60 (Iowa 2002). "Therefore, the principles underlying summary judgment procedure apply to motions of either party for disposition of an application for postconviction relief without a trial on the merits." Id. at 560. Summary disposition is only proper when "there is no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Iowa Code § 822.6; accord Iowa R. Civ. P. 1.981(3).

         Thomas was sentenced to a term of imprisonment not to exceed thirty-five years after being convicted of first-degree burglary, second-degree robbery, third-degree kidnapping, assault with intent to commit sexual abuse causing bodily injury, and two counts of assault on a peace officer. The convictions were upheld on direct appeal. State v. Thomas, No. 06-0582, 2007 WL 3376888, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Nov. 15, 2007). On direct appeal, this court rejected his claims that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the convictions, the verdicts were against the weight of the evidence, and that trial counsel was ineffective. Id. at *5-8. Procedendo issued on December 14, 2007.

         In his first PCR application, Thomas contended appellate counsel was ineffective in failing to appeal from the denial of his motion to sever the several charges against him. Thomas v. State, No. 11-0275, 2012 WL 836839, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Mar. 14, 2012). This district court rejected the claim, and we upheld that ruling on appeal. Id. at *7-8.

         In this second PCR application, which was filed on June 4, 2012, Thomas asserted there were numerous errors in the jury instructions and that defects in the trial information deprived the criminal court of subject-matter jurisdiction. Finally, he alleged ineffective assistance of all prior counsel. In an amended application, appointed counsel asserted Thomas was subject to an illegal sentence due to errors in the jury instructions.

         The State moved for summary judgment on grounds the claims were time barred and that a challenge to jury instructions is not a claim of illegal sentence that ...


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