from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Stuart P.
Werling (motion to continue) and Mark J. Smith (sentencing),
Christner appeals his conviction and sentence following a
guilty plea to possession of a product to be used in the
manufacture of a controlled substance.
G. Hoover of Blair & Fitzsimmons, P.C., Dubuque, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Timothy M. Hau, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Potterfield and Mullins, JJ.
Christner was charged with conspiracy to commit a
non-forcible felony and possession of a product to be used in
the manufacture of a controlled substance. See Iowa
Code §§ 124.401(4), 706.3(2) (2015). A plea
agreement was reached in which Christner would enter a guilty
plea to the possession charge in return for the State's
dismissal of the conspiracy charge and recommendation against
incarceration. The agreement required Christner's
completion of a substance-abuse evaluation and treatment
prior to sentencing and conditioned the State's
recommendation against incarceration upon Christner's
cooperation in the preparation of a presentence investigation
report (PSI) and appearance "where and as
required." The court's concurrence with the
agreement was also noted as a condition of the acceptance of
a guilty plea, but if Christer failed to cooperate in the
preparation of a PSI or failed to appear, then the court was
allowed to sentence him to a "less favorable
disposition" than that provided for in the agreement.
February 26, 2016, Christner entered his guilty plea and the
court deferred acceptance or rejection thereof pending the
receipt of a PSI and approval of the plea agreement. The
court ordered the preparation of a PSI and set the matter for
sentencing on April 21. Christner moved to continue the
subsequent sentencing hearing, noting he initially "did
not show up for his PSI Interview, " but was interviewed
thereafter, and the department of corrections would need
additional time to complete the PSI. The court continued
sentencing to May 13. At the May 13 sentencing hearing,
Christner's counsel moved for another continuance to
allow Christner more time to obtain a substance-abuse
evaluation, as Christner was unaware that he was required to
obtain the evaluation. The court responded:
Having had an opportunity to review the plea agreement and
the PSI, the Court is going to grant the motion to continue
for the following reasons. The Court is troubled that the
plea agreement requires the State to recommend against
incarceration, yet the PSI recommends incarceration . . . and
further finds that the Defendant is at a high risk of violent
re-offending . . . .
The Defendant has previously been found to have-noted to have
obtained substance abuse evaluation, sometimes
successfully and sometimes unsuccessfully. I think this
case-I'll advise defense counsel that this case is ripe
for a rejection of the plea agreement.
And I think that there might be some further negotiations
between the parties required, or at least useful, in
determining what sentencing recommendations the parties are
going to make. The plea agreement, I think, is probably-
Well, the plea agreement simply is not supported by the PSI.
That's the fact that is presented in this sentencing, and
I think that that presents, as I said, a situation that ...