from the Iowa District Court for Lee (South) County, Michael
J. Schilling (plea) and John M. Wright (sentencing), Judges.
Lawson appeals from his conviction asserting his trial
counsel provided ineffective assistance.
William R. Monroe of Law Office of William Monroe,
Burlington, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.
Lawson appeals his conviction following his guilty plea for
possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, third
or subsequent offense, in violation of Iowa Code section
124.401(5) (2017). He contends his trial counsel was
ineffective for failing to request his plea be conditioned on
the court's willingness to accept the plea agreement or a
more favorable disposition under Iowa Rule of Criminal
Procedure 2.10(3), for failing to object to the use of
risk-assessment tools used in the presentence investigation
report, and for failing to object to a breach of the plea
agreement. The State asserts the record is inadequate on
direct appeal to address Lawson's rule 2.10(3)
conditioned plea argument, Lawson was not prejudiced by the
use of risk-assessment tools, and counsel did not have a duty
to object to the prosecutor's communication of the plea
agreement. Agreeing with the State, we affirm.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
concedes no motion in arrest of judgment was filed in this
case, so he raises his challenges to the guilty plea through
an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim. State v.
Straw, 709 N.W.2d 128, 133 (Iowa 2006) (noting a
challenge to a guilty plea is not barred "if the failure
to file a motion in arrest of judgment resulted from
ineffective assistance of counsel"). To prove his
ineffective-assistance claim, Lawson must prove counsel
failed to perform an essential duty and the failure resulted
in prejudice. See id. The prejudice burden requires
proof "there is a reasonable probability that, but for
counsel's errors, he or she would not have pleaded guilty
and would have insisted on going to trial." Id.
When an ineffective-assistance claim is made on direct
appeal, we must first determine whether the record is
adequate to address the claim made. State v.
Johnson, 784 N.W.2d 192, 198 (Iowa 2010). "[M]ost
claims of ineffective assistance of counsel in the context of
a guilty plea will require a record more substantial than the
one [available on direct appeal]." Straw, 709
N.W.2d at 138.
and the State presented a plea agreement to the district
court at sentencing in which the State recommended suspended
sentences. After reviewing the presentence investigation
report, the district court rejected the plea agreement and
sentenced Lawson to a term of incarceration. There is no
record of Lawson's, or his trial counsel's,
conversations with the State regarding the plea. Because the
record on appeal does not contain evidence regarding what was
discussed during plea negotiations, including any record of
whether Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.10(3) would have
been acceptable to the State, we conclude the record on
appeal is not adequate to address Lawson's claim that his
trial counsel was ineffective. State v. Coil, 264
N.W.2d 293, 296 (Iowa 1978) ("Even a lawyer is entitled
to his day in court, especially when his professional
reputation is impugned."). We preserve Lawson's
ineffective-assistance claim for postconviction proceedings.
See Johnson, 784 N.W.2d at 198 ("If . . . the
court determines the claim cannot be addressed on appeal, the
court must preserve it for a postconviction-relief
proceeding, regardless of the court's view of the
potential viability of the claim.").
next claims his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to
object to the district court's use of the presentence
investigation report because it contained improper
risk-assessment tools. We find the record sufficient to
address Lawson's claim.
claims there is no foundation for using scientific tests like
the Iowa Risk Revised ("IRR") or the Dynamic Risk
Assessment for Offender Re-Entry ("DRAOR") in
sentencing and these tests are not reliable in the context of
sentencing. However, upon our review of the record,
unlike the cases of Gordon and Guise, there
is no evidence the district court relied upon or even
considered risk-level scores in announcing Lawson's
sentence. Instead, the court focused on Lawson's age, his
lengthy criminal history, the nature of his crimes, and his
various attempts at rehabilitation. The district court only
referenced the recommendation of the Department of
Corrections once, noting he was a "supervising
problem" when he was arrested, defying instructions and
instigating an altercation with another inmate. The district
court did not refer to the IRR or the DRAOR and did not use
either as an aggravating factor. ...