CLARENCE G. BRYANT, Applicant-Appellant,
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Mahaska County, Shawn
Bryant appeals the dismissal of his application for
postconviction relief. AFFIRMED.
M. Gonyea of McKelvie Law Office, Grinnell, for appellant.
Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Richard J. Bennett,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
Considered by Vogel, C.J., Vaitheswaran, J., and Blane, S.J.
Bryant pled guilty to four counts of third-degree sexual
abuse in 2003. The district court imposed judgment and
sentence. Bryant's appeal was subsequently dismissed as
frivolous, and procedendo issued the same year.
years later, Bryant filed the second of two
postconviction-relief applications. He alleged in part that
"two facts" showed "he could not have
physically committed the alleged four . . . first degree
sexual abuse charges that he was accused of."
Specifically, he alleged (1) "he was diagnosed with Type
II diabetes in July of 1994 resulting in erectile dysfunction
so therefore it would have been physically impossible for
[him] to have committed these four sexual acts" and (2)
"[i]n approximately late July 1994 [he] ruptured two
discs in his lower back while working at his job,"
making "it impossible for him to have committed the
alleged abuse charges."
State moved to dismiss the second application on the ground
the statutory three-year limitations period had long since
expired. See Iowa Code § 822.3 (2018)
(requiring postconviction-relief applications to "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" but stating
"this limitation does not apply to a ground of fact or
law that could not have been raised within the applicable
time period"). Bryant resisted the State's motion on
the ground the claim "that his medical ailments
precluded the physical element of his crime" was "a
claim of actual innocence" under Schmidt v.
State, 909 N.W.2d 778 (Iowa 2018). Bryant asked the
postconviction court to determine that Schmidt was
"a ground of law that could not have been raised in the
three-year limit." Following a non-evidentiary hearing,
the district court dismissed the application. Bryant
concedes his second postconviction relief application
"was due on or before August 20, 2006, unless" his
claim fell within the ground of fact or law exception. He
again asserts his claim is one of "actual
innocence," which "was not legally viable until the
decision in Schmidt v. State was filed in
2018." He also asserts "reasonable minds could
differ on the question of whether [he] could have raised the
ground of fact earlier."
were reviewing the merits of an actual-innocence claim, our
review would be de novo. Schmidt, 909 N.W.2d at 795;
State v. Gonzalez, 18-0137, 2018 WL 6130305, at *2
(Iowa Ct. App. Nov. 21, 2018). Because we are simply
reviewing the court's application of section 822.3, our
review is for errors of law. Schmidt, 909 N.W.2d at
begin and end with Schmidt. There, a defendant pled
guilty to two crimes. Id. at 782-83. Years after the
three-year limitations period expired, the defendant filed a
postconviction-relief application alleging the victim
recanted his story and the recantation amounted to new
evidence. Id. at 783. The Iowa Supreme Court
overruled precedent disallowing "defendants to attack
their pleas based on extrinsic grounds when they claim actual
innocence." Id. at 790. The court held
"convicted defendants can attack their pleas when
claiming actual innocence even if the attack is extrinsic to
the pleas." Id. at 798.
court went on to explain why the three-year limitations
period set forth in section 822.3 did not foreclose
Schmidt's actual-innocence claim. Applying the
ground-of-fact exception, the court stated the victim's
recantation "was not available to Schmidt within the
three-year period following the date of his conviction and
Schmidt could not have discovered the recantation earlier
than he did in the exercise of due diligence."
Id. at 799. Accordingly, the court concluded
"section 822.3 [did] not time bar Schmidt's
freestanding claim of actual innocence. Id.
effort to circumvent the time-bar runs head on into
Schmidt's ground-of-fact analysis. Unlike the
defendant in Schmidt, who discovered new facts well
after the three-year limitations period expired, Bryant knew
of his medical conditions almost a decade before he pled
guilty. The conditions, then, were grounds of fact that could
have been raised within the applicable time period, and
Bryant's belated "actual-innocence" claim is
barred by the three-year limitations period. As the district
[Bryant's] medical condition at the time of his offenses
is not newly discovered evidence. This is a claim that could
have been raised on direct appeal or previous PCR case and
was not. It is barred by the statute of limitations.
Applicant's observation that the State did not have DNA
evidence is not of legal significance. The State is not
required to possess physical evidence to prove an individual
guilty of a crime. If the victim had allegedly recanted,