from the Iowa District Court for Benton County, Chad A.
Kepros (motion to dismiss) and Christopher L. Bruns (order),
Stechcon appeals the district court's summary dismissal
of his application for postconviction relief.
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Darrel L. Mullins, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Doyle and Mullins, JJ.
VAITHESWARAN, Presiding Judge
found Chad Stechcon guilty of first-degree burglary, domestic
abuse assault while using or displaying a dangerous weapon,
and false imprisonment. This court affirmed Stechcon's
convictions. See State v. Stechcon, No. 13-0049,
2013 WL 5951359, at *3-7 (Iowa Ct. App. Nov. 6, 2013).
Procedendo issued on December 9, 2013.
following year, Stechcon filed an application for appointment
of counsel, requesting "competent counsel to properly
prepare his Application for Post Conviction Relief, and bring
the same into open court for a hearing." He also filed
an application to proceed in forma pauperis and declaration
in support. On April 17, 2014, the district court granted the
applications. The court specifically noted, "Applicant
did not include an actual Application for Post-Conviction
Relief." The court cautioned Stechcon that, by
appointing counsel, it was "making no ruling that
Applicant has a colorable claim for post-conviction
relief" but was "simply appointing [counsel] to
represent Applicant to investigate whether Applicant has such
a claim and, if so, to prepare, file, and prosecute the
"case" languished, and Stechcon was notified that
it would be automatically dismissed pursuant to Iowa Rule of
Civil Procedure 1.944. No action was taken and the case was
dismissed. Later, counsel moved to have it reinstated and the
motion was granted.
February 14, 2017, postconviction counsel filed what he
characterized as an "amended" postconviction-relief
application, alleging trial counsel was ineffective in
failing to call Stechon as a witness. The State moved to
dismiss the application as untimely. Stechcon filed a reply
acknowledging he "did not file an application for
postconviction relief, but instead, merely . . . filed, on
April 7, 2014, an application to proceed in forma pauperis
and an application for appointment of post-conviction relief
counsel." He argued it would "be inequitable"
to dismiss the case because the clerk of court assigned a
case number to the matter.
district court granted the dismissal motion, reasoning as
Applicant, who had counsel appointed to represent his
interests as of April 17, 2014, was clearly informed that he
must still prepare, file, and prosecute any alleged claim for
post-conviction relief. . . . [O]n February 14, 2017,
Applicant finally attempted to comply with the April 17
order. By that point in time, his claim was time barred as
asserted by the State.
appeal from the summary dismissal order, Stechcon concedes a
postconviction relief application generally "must be
filed within three years" of the issuance of procedendo,
which in his case was "on or before December 13,
2016." See Iowa Code § 822.3 (2017)
(stating an application for postconviction relief "must
be filed within three years from the date the conviction or
decision is final or, in the event of an appeal, from the
date the writ of procedendo is issued," unless the
application raises "a ground of fact or law that could
not have been raised within the applicable time
period"). He seeks to circumvent the time bar by arguing
his "court-appointed postconviction relief counsel was
ineffective in failing to file his application for
postconviction relief in a timely fashion."
Iowa Supreme Court recently addressed applicants' efforts
to sidestep the section 822.3 time bar by alleging
ineffective assistance of counsel. SeeAllison
v. State, 914 N.W.2d ...