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Buck v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 4, 2018

SHATANI BUCK JR., Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Johnson County, Ian K. Thornhill, Judge.

         Shatani Buck Jr. appeals from the denial of his application for postconviction relief.

          Lanny M. Van Daele of Van Daele Law, LLC, North Liberty, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kyle Hanson, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.

          DOYLE, PRESIDING JUDGE

         Ignoring his own misconduct, Shatani Buck Jr. blames his current plight on his plea counsel and asks that his felon-in-possession-of-firearm conviction be tossed. We affirm the district court's denial of Buck's application for postconviction (PCR) relief.

         In December 2012, Buck was charged by trial information with Count I, felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of Iowa Code section 724.26(1) (2012), a class "D" felony; Count II, carrying weapons, in violation of section 724.4(1), [1] an aggravated misdemeanor; and Count III, possession of marijuana, in violation of section 124.204(4)(m), a serious misdemeanor. Buck bonded out and was released to the supervision of the Iowa Department of Correctional Services (DCS). An April 2013 pretrial report of violation indicated Buck had not reported to DCS since early January and that he had picked up another drug possession charge. Buck's pretrial release was rescinded, and he was rearrested.

         Buck and the State reached a plea agreement. The agreement called for Buck to plead guilty to Counts I and II. In exchange for these guilty pleas, the State would recommend a deferred judgment be awarded on Count I with three years of supervised probation and a suspended civil penalty. For Count II, the agreement was for the State to recommend 365 days in jail with all but forty-six days being suspended, two-year's supervised probation, and credit for twenty-five days already served. The minimum fine would also to be suspended. Count III would be dismissed at Buck's cost. Additionally, the agreement called for the new drug possession charge to be dismissed at Buck's cost. Finally, the agreement called for Buck's release from custody to the supervision of DCS pending sentencing on Count I after he completed serving the unsuspended portion of the jail sentence imposed on Count II.

         In May 2013, Buck filed a written guilty plea to Count II, the carrying-weapons offense, and was sentenced consistent with the provisions of the plea agreement. The same day, in open court, Buck also pled guilty to Count I, the felon-in-possession-of-firearm offense. A presentence investigation (PSI) report was subsequently prepared. The PSI report recommended Buck be given a suspended prison sentence. This recommendation was based, in part, upon Buck's extensive juvenile and adult criminal history, despite his young age, as well as the fact that Buck had not been compliant during his period of pretrial release.

         In September 2013, Buck was sentenced on Count I, the felon-in-possession-of-firearm offense, and despite the PSI recommendation, Buck was granted a deferred judgment. Three days later, Buck violated the terms of his probation on Count II. Buck admitted his misconduct, and he was sentenced to ninety days in jail and remained on probation.

         In March 2015, the State sought to revoke Buck's deferred judgment, alleging Buck had missed and failed drug tests from August 2014 through January 2015, and alleging new criminal conduct by Buck. At a May 2015 hearing, Buck admitted he had violated the terms of his probation under Count I. The district court revoked Buck's deferred judgment, adjudicated him guilty of the felon-in- possession-of-firearm offense, sentenced him to an indeterminate term of incarceration not to exceed five years, suspended incarceration, and-yet again- placed Buck on probation. In August 2015, after additional and repeated violations of his probation, Buck's probation was revoked and he was sent to prison to serve the term of incarceration the court had suspended the previous May.

         In January 2016, Buck filed a pro se application for PCR relief. His PCR counsel filed an amended application in April 2016. Buck alleged his defense counsel, Edward Leff, failed to adequately consult with him "regarding possible defenses, trial strategy, penalties and other matters" and that, as a result, his plea was unknowing and involuntary. ...


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