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Pendleton v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

April 3, 2019

JACOLBY JAPRIEST PENDLETON, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Dubuque County, Monica Zrinyi Wittig, Judge.

         Jacolby Pendleton appeals the district court's denial of his application for postconviction relief. AFFIRMED.

          Thomas M. McIntee, Waterloo, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Kyle Hanson, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Considered by Vogel, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Mullins, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, JUDGE.

         A jury found Jacolby Pendleton guilty of second-degree robbery. The district court sentenced him to a prison term not exceeding ten years, subject to a seventy-percent mandatory minimum term. The court of appeals affirmed his judgment and sentence. State v. Pendleton, No. 13-1647, 2014 WL 6977188, at *1 (Iowa Ct. App. Dec. 10, 2014).

         Pendleton filed a postconviction-relief application, which was denied following an evidentiary hearing. On appeal, Pendleton (1) challenges the specificity of the postconviction court's findings of fact, (2) contends his mandatory minimum sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment, and (3) argues his attorneys were ineffective in several respects.

         I. Findings of Fact

         Pendleton argues the postconviction court failed to make specific findings of fact relating to (1) an alternate juror's observation of him in shackles and the juror's transmission of the information to other jurors; (2) his claim that trial counsel did not adequately advise him of the terms of a plea offer; and (3) his claim that trial counsel failed to object to hearsay statements made by a police officer.

         Pendleton is correct that a postconviction court has an obligation to address "all the issues raised." Gamble v. State, 723 N.W.2d 443, 446 (Iowa 2006). The postconviction court did so. On the first issue, the court found:

Trial counsel moved for all appropriate motions including a motion for mistrial as a result of a juror seeing the applicant in shackles when the trial broke for lunch. The juror was brought before the court and the decision was made to release that individual as the alternate. Once trial counsel found out that the juror has said something to his fellow jurors about what he saw, the person was again brought before the court to testify to what happened in support of a motion for new trial.

         The postconviction court concluded "curative action was taken" by the district court.

         On the second issue-the advice Pendleton received about the terms of a plea offer-the postconviction court summarized Pendleton's testimony concerning his discussions with his trial attorney, then determined Pendleton "may have had some deficits when it came to knowledge of the law, but understanding the difference between having to serve 7 years before one can be eligible for parole versus serving a 'straight' 10 with good time credit is not a difficult concept to grasp." The court further stated, "Trial counsel explained this to him with as much clarity as possible. He insisted on going to trial to clear his name. Furthermore, he did not offer credible evidence that his decision was not knowing and voluntary."

         The final issue-counsel's claimed failure to object to the officer's hearsay testimony about a non-testifying alibi witness-was not raised by Pendleton at the postconviction-relief hearing. ...


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