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State v. Vanmersbergen

Court of Appeals of Iowa

October 9, 2019

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
STUART MICHAEL VANMERSBERGEN, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Warren County, James D. Birkenholz, District Associate Judge.

         Stuart Vanmersbergen appeals his guilty plea to operating while intoxicated, second offense, and operating while barred.

          Patrick W. O'Bryan of O'Bryan Law Firm, Des Moines, for appellant.

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

          Considered by Potterfield, P.J., and Mullins and Greer, JJ.

          GREER, JUDGE.

         Stuart Vanmersbergen appeals from his conviction by guilty plea to operating while intoxicated, second offense, and operating while barred. Through an ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim, he argues he did not understand the plea offer before submitting his plea. Because the record is inadequate to address his ineffective-assistance claim on direct appeal, we preserve it for any later postconviction-relief action. We affirm his conviction and sentence.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         On October 1, 2018, Vanmersbergen, with the assistance of counsel, entered a written guilty plea. In that plea, he pleaded guilty to one count of operating while intoxicated, second offense, in violation of Iowa Code section 321J.2 (2018) and one count of operating a motor vehicle while barred in violation of Iowa Code sections 321.560 and .561. The plea agreement recommended a two-year sentence with all but seven days suspended, fines, and four years of supervised probation. But the plea agreement noted, "The Court has the discretion to accept or reject any plea agreement made between the State of Iowa and me."

         As part of his written plea, Vanmersbergen signed and dated three separate provisions acknowledging and waiving several rights, including waivers of his rights to: (1) "directly appeal [his] guilty plea," (2) file a motion in arrest of judgment, and (3) allocution. He also signed and dated an acknowledgement of appeal rights. Presented with the guilty plea, the court accepted it the same day and set the case for sentencing on November 26.

         On January 25, 2019, during an unreported sentencing hearing, the court sentenced Vanmersbergen to two years in prison on each count, with the sentences to run concurrently, as well as an $1875 fine and applicable surcharge and costs, including court-appointed attorney fees. The court ordered that Vanmersbergen undergo screening for placement in a continuum of programming for supervision and treatment of offenders convicted under Iowa Code chapter 321J. He now appeals.

         II. Standard of Review.

         We review ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claims de novo. State v. Straw, 709 N.W.2d 128, 133 (Iowa 2006).

         III. ...


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