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State v. Harmon

Court of Appeals of Iowa

February 7, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
LAWRENCE LEVELL HARMON, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Christine Dalton Ploof (plea), and Cheryl Traum (sentencing), District Associate Judges.

         Lawrence Harmon appeals from his conviction by guilty plea to driving while barred as a habitual offender. AFFIRMED.

          Thomas A. Hurd of Glazebrook & Hurd, LLP, Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Darrel L. Mullins, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.

          DANILSON, Chief Judge.

         Lawrence Harmon appeals from his conviction after entering a written guilty plea to driving while barred as a habitual offender, in violation of Iowa Code sections 321.555 and .561 (2016). Harmon maintains there is not a factual basis for the plea because the record does not sufficiently establish the prior offenses giving rise to Harmon's habitual-offender status and because the State did not show Harmon was represented by counsel or validly waived counsel during the prior offenses. Harmon asserts defense counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel in failing to file a motion in arrest of judgment to challenge the deficiencies. We conclude the record contains a factual basis for the plea and, thus, defense counsel did not render ineffective assistance. Harmon's remaining claim is an improper collateral attack and has no merit.

         On January 17, 2017, Harmon entered a written guilty plea to driving while barred as a habitual offender. The written plea provided:

By pleading guilty, I am admitting that there is a factual basis for the charge(s), and admitting that at the time and place charged in the Trial Information I was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle at a time when my license had been barred for being a[] habitual offender.

         In a January 20, 2017 order, the trial court accepted Harmon's guilty plea. After a hearing held February 17, 2017, the court sentenced Harmon to a two-year suspended term of incarceration and ordered Harmon to pay a fine plus costs and surcharge. Harmon now appeals.

         We review claims of ineffective assistance of counsel de novo. State v. Straw, 709 N.W.2d 128, 133 (Iowa 2006). To establish his ineffective- assistance-of-counsel claim, Harmon must show by a preponderance of the evidence both that "(1) his trial counsel failed to perform an essential duty, and (2) this failure resulted in prejudice." Id.

         1) Factual Basis for Prior Offenses.

         Harmon contends there was no factual basis to establish his prior offenses and to show he fell within the definition of a habitual offender under Iowa Code section 321.555. Section 321.561 provides, "It shall be unlawful for any person found to be a habitual offender to operate any motor vehicle in this state during the period of time specified in section 321.560 . . . ." Section 31.555(1)(c) defines a "habitual offender" as a person who has accumulated three or more separate and distinct convictions for "[d]riving a motor vehicle while the person's license is suspended, denied, revoked, or barred."

         To discern whether there was a factual basis supporting the guilty plea, we look to the record as a whole. State v. Ortiz, 789 N.W.2d 761, 767-68 (Iowa 2010). "[W]e have held the record does not need to show the totality of evidence necessary to support a guilty conviction, ...


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