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Garcia v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 9, 2019

FRANCISCO DE LA ROSA GARCIA, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Nancy S. Tabor, Judge.

         Francisco De La Rosa Garcia appeals the denial of his application for postconviction relief.

          Frank Santiago of Santiago Law Office, Iowa City, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Martha E. Trout, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and May and Greer, JJ. Tabor, J., takes no part.

          GREER, JUDGE.

         Francisco De La Rosa Garcia appeals the district court's denial of his application for postconviction relief (PCR), arguing that his trial counsel failed to inform him of the immigration consequences of his guilty plea. We conclude Garcia's PCR application is time-barred and affirm the district court ruling.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         On May 30, 2008, Garcia, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, pleaded guilty to one count of forgery and one count of identity theft in violation of Iowa Code sections 715A.2 and .8 (2007). At all times relevant here, Garcia was represented by counsel and assisted by a Spanish-language interpreter.

         During the plea hearing, Garcia's attorney explained the conversation she and Garcia had about the immigration consequences of his guilty plea,

I've advised him, and he's aware, that the date he was in custody that-I think it's called ICE now-immigration placed a hold on him.[1]But I think he's pretty certain that he will be deported. We don't know for sure, but I think he believes that he will be deported upon completion of this case and his release from Scott County Jail.

         Based upon this discussion, the judge asked Garcia if he understood that his plea could affect his immigration status. In response, Garcia confirmed that he understood and he was satisfied with the advice from his attorney. The court accepted his plea. Consequently, the court later sentenced Garcia to a suspended prison sentence and placed him on probation for two years.[2]

         After the plea and sentencing process, Garcia did not appeal his conviction or sentence. Shortly after the plea, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took Garcia into custody to begin removal proceedings. He was in jail for one week until he posted bond. Given the fear of removal from the country, Garcia then hired an immigration attorney and contested his deportation. That challenge to removal failed and an immigration judge ordered his deportation from the United States. He appealed this deportation decision.[3]

         In February 2018, almost ten years after his guilty plea, Garcia applied for postconviction relief asking the court to vacate his plea and sentence. Relying on a recent Iowa Supreme Court case, Morales Diaz v. State, 896 N.W.2d 723 (Iowa 2017), Garcia argued that his attorney was ineffective by failing to explain the immigration consequences of his guilty plea before he ...


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