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State v. Fuller

Court of Appeals of Iowa

July 18, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JAMES DUANE FULLER, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Linda M. Fangman, Judge.

         James Duane Fuller appeals his convictions for possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and carrying a weapon. VACATED AND REMANDED FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS.

          John W. Pilkington of Nidey Erdahl Fisher Pilkington & Meier, PLC, Marengo, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Timothy M. Hau, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

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

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         James Duane Fuller appeals his convictions for possession of MDMA[1] with intent to deliver and carrying weapons. On appeal, Fuller contends his trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective for permitting him to enter Alford pleas without a sufficient factual basis for the pleas.[2] Additionally, he argues trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective in failing to file a motion in arrest of judgment.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         In September 2016, Fuller was subject to a valid traffic stop by a Black Hawk County Sheriff's deputy. During the traffic stop, Fuller revealed his driver's license was suspended. The deputy arrested Fuller for the traffic violations, and then discovered Fuller had an active warrant for his arrest.

         The deputy conducted an inventory search of the vehicle, and found what appeared to be methamphetamine on the floor in front of the driver's seat, residue appearing to be methamphetamine in a baggy found between the seats, a methamphetamine pipe, and several glass jars suspected of containing methamphetamine in a safe and arm rest of the vehicle. Also in the vehicle was an expandable baton next to where Fuller was sitting. Based on these items, Fuller was charged by trial information with possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(1)(c) (2016), and carrying weapons, in violation of Iowa Code section 724.4. Fuller pled not guilty to both charges.

         At the May 15, 2017 plea hearing, the State orally moved to amend the trial information to change the drug from methamphetamine to MDMA, stating the amendment was consistent with the lab report on the substance. No additional charges, enhancements, or additional minutes of evidence were filed. Fuller entered Alford pleas to both charges. The district court found a factual basis existed for each charge and accepted the pleas. On August 1, Fuller was sentenced to concurrent terms of ten years and two years of incarceration, with statutory-minimum fines and surcharges imposed.

         Fuller now appeals, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel.

         II. Standard of Review

         Appellate review for a lack-of-a-factual-basis challenge to a guilty plea is for correction of errors of law. State v. Martin, 778 N.W.2d 201, 202 (Iowa Ct. App. 2009). We review claims of ineffective assistance of counsel de novo. Ennenga v. State, 812 N.W.2d 696, 701 (Iowa 2012). To establish a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, a defendant must show (1) the attorney failed to perform an essential duty and (2) prejudice resulted. State v. Carroll, 767 N.W.2d 638, 641 (Iowa 2009). Counsel is presumed competent, and a defendant must show by a preponderance of evidence that counsel's ...


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