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State v. Johnson

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 21, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DAVID JOSEPH JOHNSON, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Odell G. McGhee, District Associate Judge.

         A defendant challenges his conviction for driving while barred.

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

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Bridget A. Chambers, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Tabor, P.J., McDonald, J., and Carr, S.J. [*]

          TABOR, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         David Johnson appeals his conviction for driving while barred under Iowa Code section 321.561 (2016) contending his attorney was constitutionally remiss by not ensuring a factual basis for his guilty plea. Specifically, he claims the record did not "support the habitual offender status element" and did not indicate whether the State honored his right to counsel for the offenses underlying the habitual-offender adjudication by the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT). See Iowa Code §§ 321.555, .556. Because the validity of the administrative decision to bar Johnson's license was not an element of his criminal offense, counsel did not breach a duty. Accordingly, we affirm his conviction.

         I. Facts and Prior Proceedings

         On January 15, 2016 Johnson was involved in a traffic accident. He told police he left the scene because his license was barred. The next month the State charged Johnson with driving while barred in violation of Iowa Code sections 321.555 and 321.561. The State extended a plea offer, noting Johnson's three prior convictions for driving while barred and five convictions for driving with a suspended license. In March 2016, Johnson entered a written guilty plea. The plea form stated as follows:

         (Image Omitted)

"In order to establish a factual basis I ask the court to accept as true the minutes of testimony, the date of offense is [handwritten] 1-15-2016 [end handwriting] and I admit I did the following: [handwritten] I was driving barred and I should not have been [end handwriting.]"

         Johnson and his attorney both signed the form. According to the sentencing order dated May 12, 2016, Johnson appeared for sentencing "having previously pled guilty" to "driving while barred as habitual offender." The district court sentenced Johnson to a one-year prison term and suspended all but thirty days. The court also placed Johnson on supervised probation for one year. Johnson now appeals his conviction.

         II. Scope and Standards of Review

         Generally, the defense must challenge a defect in the guilty-plea proceeding by filing a motion in arrest of judgment. See Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.24(3)(a). When counsel fails to file such a motion, a defendant may attack the plea on appeal by claiming counsel was ineffective. State v. Perkins, 875 N.W.2d 190, 192 (Iowa Ct. App. 2015). Because ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims are rooted in the Sixth Amendment, we review them de novo. State v. Thorndike, 860 N.W.2d 316, 319 (Iowa 2015). We will resolve ineffective-assistance claims on direct appeal only when the record is sufficient to do so; if the record is lacking, we will preserve the claim for postconviction proceedings. See id. To prevail, Johnson must show by a ...


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