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Hopkins v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

January 10, 2018

ANTHONY EARL HOPKINS, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Cerro Gordo County, DeDra L. Schroeder, Judge (postconviction), and Annette L. Boehlje, District Associate Judge (plea and sentencing).

         Anthony Hopkins appeals the dismissal of his first postconviction-relief application.

          Thomas M. Mclntee, Waterloo, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Anthony E. Hopkins pled guilty to willful injury resulting in bodily injury. See Iowa Code § 708.4(2) (2013). This court affirmed his judgment on direct appeal. See State v. Hopkins, No. 14-0916, 2015 WL 1331682, at *1-2 (Iowa Ct. App. Mar. 25, 2015).

         Hopkins filed an application for postconviction relief (PCR) raising several ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims. Following trial, the district court denied the application. The court also denied a post-trial motion.

         On appeal, Hopkins contends his plea attorney was ineffective in (A) failing to ensure he understood the plea agreement and the effect of entering a guilty plea, (B) failing to pursue or investigate a potential claim of self-defense, (C) failing to object to an incorrect criminal history in a presentence investigation report and a comment in the criminal history, and (D) failing to request recusal of the sentencing judge. He also contends his PCR attorney was ineffective in failing to address his self-defense claim by deposing the person he injured and calling that person as a witness at the PCR trial. Hopkins was required to establish counsel breached an essential duty and prejudice resulted. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687(1984).

         I. Plea Counsel

         A. Guilty Plea

         Hopkins argues his guilty plea was not knowing, intelligent, or voluntary because he thought he was pleading guilty to other crimes with which he was charged. On our de novo review of the record, we are unpersuaded by his assertion.

         The prosecutor committed the proposed plea agreement to paper. His letter outlined the charge in the pending case as well as the proposed reduction in the charge. The letter also outlined misdemeanor charges in other cases and the prosecutor's proposed reduction of those charges. Hopkins signed and initialed a written guilty plea agreement in the pending case. In accord with the letter, the agreement left no doubt about the pending offense, identifying it as willful injury causing bodily injury, a Class "D" felony.

         At a plea hearing, the prosecutor explained that the plea agreement "actually encompasse[d] three cases" but two were "already . . . taken care of." In the pending case, the prosecutor stated he agreed to amend the charge of willful injury resulting in serious injury to the lesser crime of willful injury resulting in bodily injury in exchange for Hopkins' guilty plea. Hopkins acknowledged his understanding of the elements and penalties associated with the offense as well as the rights he was giving up. He also affirmed his knowledge of other pending charges that were not in front of the court. He described the facts underlying the charge to which he was pleading, stated ...


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