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State v. McCanna

Court of Appeals of Iowa

August 1, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MATTHEW A. McCANNA, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Story County, Steven P. Van Marel, District Associate Judge.

         Matthew McCanna appeals his judgment and sentence following his guilty plea to absence from custody.

          Shawn Smith of The Smith Law Firm, PC, Ames, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Linda J. Hines, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, PRESIDING JUDGE.

         Matthew McCanna signed out of a residential work release center and did not return at the appointed time. The State charged him with absence from custody, a serious misdemeanor. See Iowa Code § 719.4(3) (2017). McCanna pled guilty to the crime, and the State agreed to recommend ninety days in jail with credit for time served and a $315.00 fine plus costs and applicable surcharges. The sentence was to be served consecutively to "all other cases." The written plea agreement stated, "I understand that the court may sentence me up to the maximum provided by the law."

         The district court accepted the plea. The court sentenced McCanna to a jail term not exceeding one year, with credit for time served. The court also imposed the fine and surcharge.

         On appeal, McCanna contends his plea attorney was ineffective "in failing to file a motion in arrest of judgment where the district court did not allow [him] to withdraw his plea when the court did not follow the plea agreement." We assume without deciding this is the appropriate framework.[1] Although we generally preserve ineffective-assistance claims for postconviction relief, we find the record adequate to address the issue. See State v. Thorndike, 860 N.W.2d 316, 319 (Iowa 2015).

         McCanna must establish the breach of an essential duty and prejudice. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-88 (1984); State v. Straw, 709 N.W.2d 128, 133 (Iowa 2006). We will focus on the breach prong.

         McCanna hangs his hat on Iowa Rule of Criminal Procedure 2.10(4), which states:

If, at the time the plea of guilty is tendered, the court refuses to be bound by or rejects the plea agreement, the court shall inform the parties of this fact, afford the defendant the opportunity to then withdraw defendant's plea, and advise the defendant that if persistence in a guilty plea continues, the disposition of the case may be less favorable to the defendant than the contemplated by the plea agreement.

As McCanna asserts, the rule does indeed authorize the withdrawal of a plea. But the rule cannot be read in isolation. See State v. Pryor, No. 16-1982, 2017 WL 2684361, at *2 (Iowa Ct. App. June 21, 2017) (citing State v. Weaver, No. 05-0764, 2006 WL 3018498, at *3 (Iowa Ct. App. Oct. 25, 2006)). One of the rule's subsections states in part, "[I]f the agreement is conditioned upon concurrence of the court in the charging or sentencing concession made by the prosecuting attorney, the court may accept or reject the agreement, or may defer its decision as to acceptance or rejection until receipt of a presentence report." Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.10(2). Another subsection states in part:

When the plea agreement is conditioned upon the court's concurrence, and the court accepts the plea agreement, the court shall inform the defendant that it will embody in the judgment and sentence the disposition provided for in the plea agreement or another disposition more ...

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