from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Kevin McKeever,
applicant appeals the district court's denial of his
application for postconviction relief.
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Vidhya K. Reddy,
Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
David Mitchell, Fort Dodge, appellant pro se. Thomas J.
Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
Mitchell appeals the district court's denial of his
application for postconviction relief (PCR). He asserts his
trial counsel was ineffective for (1) allowing him to plead
guilty when he claims his plea was not made voluntarily and
intelligently, (2) failing to perform an adequate
investigation, and (3) failing to move to suppress his
confessions. He also asserts the PCR court erred when it
excluded exhibits he sought to introduce.
Background Facts and Proceedings
pled guilty to two counts of sexual abuse in the second
degree, in violation of Iowa Code sections 709.1 and
709.3(1)(b) (2011). The trial information alleged that
Mitchell committed multiple sex acts on his five- and
nine-year-old daughters. Mitchell agreed to plead guilty to
both counts in exchange for the State's recommendation
the sentences run concurrently. The trial court accepted the
plea after finding it was entered voluntarily and
intelligently. The court accepted the State's
recommendation and imposed two, twenty-five-year terms of
incarceration, to be served concurrently.
filed two pro se applications for postconviction relief over
the next few years, which were eventually amended by
appointed counsel and came on for hearing on May 12, 2016.
After hearing testimony from both Mitchell and his trial
counsel, the PCR court denied Mitchell's application.
Standard of Review
review claims of ineffective assistance of counsel de novo.
Ennenga v. State, 812 N.W.2d 696, 701 (Iowa 2012).
We review the court's evidentiary rulings for an abuse of
discretion. Hall v. Jennie Edmundson Mem'l
Hosp., 812 N.W.2d 681, 685 (Iowa 2012). "An abuse
of discretion occurs when the trial court exercises its
discretion on grounds or for reasons clearly untenable or to
an extent clearly unreasonable." Id.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
establish a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, an
applicant must show (1) the attorney failed to perform an
essential duty and (2) prejudice resulted to the extent it
denied the applicant a fair trial. State v. Carroll,
767 N.W.2d 638, 641 (Iowa 2008). In order to show prejudice,
an applicant must show that, but for ...