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State v. Morris

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 7, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
BOBBY JOE MORRIS, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Des Moines County, John G. Linn (plea) and Mary Ann Brown (sentencing), Judges.

         Bobby Joe Morris appeals his convictions for robbery in the second degree, unauthorized use of a credit card, and ongoing criminal conduct.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Melinda J. Nye, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Louis S. Sloven, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Bower and McDonald, JJ.

          BOWER, JUDGE.

         Bobby Joe Morris appeals his convictions for robbery in the second degree, unauthorized use of a credit card, and ongoing criminal conduct. On appeal, Morris claims his counsel provided constitutionally ineffective representation by permitting him to plead guilty to ongoing criminal conduct without a sufficient factual basis. Morris also claims his pleas were not knowing and voluntary and his counsel was ineffective as he was not advised of the minimum surcharges on some counts, was not adequately advised of the nature of the offense of ongoing criminal conduct, and his attorney misrepresented the terms of the plea agreement. Finally, Morris claims the district court abused its discretion during sentencing by failing to consider a risk assessment, failing to provide reasons on the record for the appropriate mandatory minimum sentences, and imposing consecutive sentences. We find Morris's plea had an adequate factual basis, preserve his other claims of ineffective assistance of counsel for postconviction proceedings, and find the district court did not abuse its discretion during sentencing.

         I. Background Facts & Proceedings

         In 2016, Morris and a second person perpetrated a series of home invasion robberies, including on September 19, October 22, November 23, and an attempted home invasion on December 20. On October 22, store cameras recorded Morris attempting to purchase items using a debit card taken in a robbery earlier that day. The victims in the September and November robberies positively identified Morris and the other perpetrator to law enforcement by the use of photo lineups. The victim of the December 20 offense identified Morris as attempting to force open the door while armed with a shotgun. Morris was apprehended after leaving the scene of the December 20 attempted robbery and subsequently confessed to its commission.

         On December 30, 2016, the State charged Morris with four counts of robbery in the first degree, one count of attempted burglary, and one count of unauthorized use of a credit card.

         Pursuant to a plea agreement, Morris pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery in the second degree, in violation of Iowa Code section 711.3 (2016), one count of unauthorized use of a credit card, in violation of sections 715A.6 and 715.6(2)(c), and one count of ongoing criminal conduct, in violation of sections 706A.2 and 706A.4. The plea agreement provided the parties would jointly recommend a seventy-percent mandatory minimum term on the robbery charges, which would run concurrent with the ongoing criminal conduct charge but consecutive to the unauthorized use of a credit card charge. This recommendation would result in a sentence of twenty-seven years, with a seven year mandatory minimum sentence. The court accepted Morris's guilty pleas on August 18, 2017.

         After the plea and before sentencing, Morris's counsel filed a motion to withdraw. Morris filed a pro se motion to withdraw his plea, alleging his counsel provided ineffective assistance. A public defender was appointed to represent Morris. The court treated Morris's motion to withdraw his plea as a motion in arrest of judgment. Following a hearing, the court denied Morris's motion, concluding the plea was entered voluntarily, intelligently, and knowingly. In its decision, the court noted the transcript from the plea hearing directly refuted some of Morris's claims, making his credibility suspect.

         At sentencing, the court rejected the parties' joint recommendation. The court ordered the two robbery sentences to run consecutive to each other, with the ongoing criminal conduct and unauthorized use of a credit card running concurrently. The court imposed a fifty-percent mandatory minimum on each robbery conviction, and minimum fines plus surcharges on the robbery and unauthorized use of a credit card counts. As ordered, Morris's sentence is twenty-five years in prison with a combined ten year mandatory minimum to be served before he is eligible for parole.

         Morris appeals, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel, his pleas were not knowing and voluntary, and the sentencing court abused its discretion.

         II. ...


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