from the Iowa District Court for Greene County, Steven J.
postconviction applicant appeals the denial of relief from
his convictions and sentences for cocaine delivery, theft,
and criminal mischief. AFFIRMED.
C. Glazebrook of Glazebrook & Hurd, LLP, Des Moines, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Zachary L. Miller, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
Heard Sr. appeals the dismissal of his postconviction relief
(PCR) application. He raises several issues related to his
sentencing. But because he has discharged his sentence, those
issues are now moot. So Heard is left with a single viable
claim-had trial counsel fully investigated Heard's mental
health and better informed Heard about a diminished capacity
defense, Heard would have insisted on going to trial.
Deferring to the district court's credibility findings,
we reject Heard's allegation of ineffective assistance of
October 2010, Heard pleaded guilty to delivery of cocaine, a
class "C" felony, in violation of Iowa Code section
124.401(1)(c)(2)(b) (2010). The district court sentenced
Heard to an indeterminate ten-year suspended sentence and
placed him on probation for five years. After Heard violated
his probation in 2012, the district court imposed the
original ten-year sentence. But after reconsideration, the
court again released Heard on a five-year probation term.
2014, Heard violated probation and was charged with
second-degree criminal mischief, domestic abuse assault, and
fifth-degree theft. To avoid the impact of a
domestic-abuse-assault conviction, Heard agreed to plead
guilty to fifth-degree theft, in violation of Iowa Code
section 714.2(5) and third-degree criminal mischief, in
violation of Iowa Code section 716.1, in return for the
State's dismissal of the assault charge. At the combined
sentencing and probation-revocation hearing, the district
court imposed a thirty-day term for theft and a two-year term
for criminal mischief concurrent to his indeterminate
ten-year sentence for drug delivery.
sought postconviction relief (PCR) alleging his trial
attorney was ineffective in three ways: (1) failing to
investigate a diminished-capacity defense based on
Heard's diagnoses for mood disorder and major panic
disorder, (2) failing to request an updated presentence
investigation (PSI) report, and (3) failing to present
evidence of Heard's impairments as mitigating sentencing
factors. During the PCR hearing Heard also complained counsel
permitted him to plead guilty even though Heard did not
understand the charges or their consequences. Heard alleged
that had counsel performed adequately, he would have refused
the plea agreement and demanded a trial. Heard's counsel,
Joey Hoover, testified. Heard also took the stand, as did his
wife and son.
court decided attorney Hoover performed competently and
dismissed Heard's PCR application. On appeal, Heard
renews his claims that Hoover failed to adequately
investigate a possible diminished-capacity defense, failed to
present evidence of Heard's mental health at sentencing,
failed to request an updated PSI, and the cumulative effect
of these failures resulted in prejudice. Heard also alleges
he received constitutionally deficient representation from
his PCR trial counsel because that attorney failed to
challenge the district court's sentencing calculation.
we generally review PCR proceedings for legal error, we
review ineffective-assistance claims de novo due to their
constitutional nature. See Ledezma v. State, 626
N.W.2d 134, 141 (Iowa 2001). Because the district court had
the chance to see the witnesses in person, we give weight to
its conclusions regarding their credibility. See id.
To show he received ineffective assistance, Heard must prove
by a preponderance of the evidence that his attorneys failed
to perform an essential duty and prejudice resulted. See
State v. Straw, 708 N.W.2d 128, 133 (Iowa 2006).
bulk of Heard's appellate claims relate to sentencing.
But, as Heard concedes, he discharged his sentence on
February 8, 2017. The State argues the sentencing claims are
moot. An issue is moot "if it no longer presents a
justiciable controversy because the issues involved are
academic or nonexistent." Homan v. Branstad,
864 N.W.2d 321, 328 (Iowa 2015) (quoting Iowa Bankers
Ass'n v. Iowa Credit Union Dep't, 335 N.W.2d
439, 442 (Iowa 1983)). When determining if an issue is moot,
we question if "an opinion would be of force and effect
with regard to the underlying controversy." Id.
(quoting Women Aware v. Reagan, 331 N.W.2d 88, 92
(Iowa 1983)). Because Heard already discharged his sentences,
an opinion would be of no force and effect. Accordingly, we
dismiss those claims as moot. See State v. Wilson,
234 N.W.2d 140, 141 (Iowa 1975) (determining challenge to
sentencing condition was moot because the sentence was
only surviving claim alleges attorney Hoover failed to
adequately investigate Heard's mental-health issues as
possible support for a diminished-capacity defense. Heard
claims had Hoover more fully developed the diminished-
capacity defense and explained it to him, he would have
refused the plea agreement and insisted on going to trial. To
prevail, Heard must show Hoover failed to meet the standard
of a reasonably competent attorney. See Ledezma, ...