State v. Carroll, No. 06-1812.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtHecht
Citation767 N.W.2d 638
Decision Date26 June 2009
Docket NumberNo. 06-1812.
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Nathan John CARROLL, Appellant.
767 N.W.2d 638
STATE of Iowa, Appellee,
v.
Nathan John CARROLL, Appellant.
No. 06-1812.
Supreme Court of Iowa.
June 26, 2009.

[767 N.W.2d 639]

Kent A. Simmons, Davenport, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Kevin Cmelik, Assistant Attorney General, William E. Davis, County Attorney, and Amy DeVine, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

HECHT, Justice.


We granted further review of a decision of the court of appeals affirming Nathan Carroll's conviction and sentence for possession with intent to deliver marijuana. Carroll contends the conviction based upon his guilty plea should be set aside because the plea was a product of ineffective assistance of counsel. In particular, he contends his plea was neither voluntary nor intelligent because his attorney was ineffective in failing to file a motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of a warrantless search, and in failing to give proper advice in advance of the plea. We conclude the record is inadequate to decide Carroll's ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim. Accordingly, we affirm his conviction and sentence, and we preserve the claim for possible postconviction relief proceedings.

767 N.W.2d 640

I. Factual and Procedural Background.

In February 2006 police officers responded to a report of a party with underage consumption of alcohol in LeClaire, Iowa. Upon arrival at the address to which they were dispatched without a search warrant, the officers found a dwelling, and behind it, a barn from which the sounds of the party were emanating. After following an unidentified male and female through a door into the barn, the officers observed several juveniles drinking alcohol. A preliminary breath test disclosed Carroll had consumed alcohol. He was cited, along with several other juveniles, for possession of alcohol under the legal age. During a search of the barn, the officers located a marijuana "blunt," a baggie filled with marijuana, and a brick of marijuana. The officers arrested Cory Wulf, the host of the party, for illegal possession of the marijuana.

The next morning Carroll appeared at the LeClaire Police Department. Carroll spoke with an officer who prepared a written report stating Carroll claimed ownership of the drugs found the previous evening in the Wulf barn. Carroll was subsequently charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver in violation of Iowa Code section 124.401(1)(d) (2005) and possession of the drugs without a drug tax stamp in violation of Iowa Code sections 453B.1(3)(b), 453B.7(1), 453B.12, and 703.1.

Carroll and the State reached a plea agreement. Under the agreement, Carroll agreed to plead guilty to the drug possession with intent to deliver charge, and the State agreed to dismiss the drug tax stamp charge and recommend against incarceration.1 Carroll subsequently pled guilty to possession with intent to deliver, and the drug tax stamp charge was dismissed consistent with the plea agreement.

The district court rejected Carroll's request for a deferred judgment at the subsequent sentencing hearing, noting Carroll continued to use marijuana during the months following the incident which was the subject of the guilty plea in this case.2 Doubting Carroll's appreciation of the seriousness of his conduct, the court sentenced Carroll to a term of imprisonment not to exceed five years, suspended the sentence, and ordered a term of probation of two years.3

Carroll appealed his conviction asserting his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to (1) file a motion to suppress evidence seized in an illegal search of the Wulf premises, (2) challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to support a conviction on the drug possession charges, and (3) adequately prepare Carroll for the sentencing proceeding, and present the case supporting imposition of a deferred judgment at the sentencing hearing. Carroll also challenged his sentence, contending the district court abused its discretion by basing its decision solely upon Carroll's continued use of marijuana after February 24, 2006. We transferred the case to the court of appeals for decision, and that court affirmed the conviction and sentence.4

767 N.W.2d 641

Carroll sought further review of the decision of the court of appeals. We granted Carroll's request for review to consider whether ineffective assistance of counsel rendered Carroll's guilty plea uninformed and involuntary.

II. Discussion.

A. Applicable Legal Principles. A claimant alleging ineffective assistance of counsel must prove (1) counsel failed to perform an essential duty and (2) prejudice resulted. State v. Risdal, 404 N.W.2d 130, 131-32 (Iowa 1987). To establish prejudice, a claimant must demonstrate "`there is a reasonable probability that, but for the counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.'" State v. Reynolds, 746 N.W.2d 837, 845 (Iowa 2008) (quoting State v. Shanahan, 712 N.W.2d 121, 136 (Iowa 2006)); see also Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 694, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 2068, 80 L.Ed.2d 674, 698 (1984). In the context of a guilty plea, an applicant for postconviction relief must prove "`a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's alleged errors, he [or she] would not have pled guilty and would have insisted on going to trial.'" State v. Straw, 709 N.W.2d 128, 136 (Iowa 2006) (quoting Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52, 59, 106 S.Ct. 366, 370, 88 L.Ed.2d 203, 210 (1985)). The probability of a different result must be "`sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome.'" Anfinson v. State, 758 N.W.2d 496, 499 (Iowa 2008) (quoting Reynolds, 746 N.W.2d at 845). We will address on direct appeal claims of ineffective assistance of counsel only if we determine the development of an additional factual record would not be helpful and these elements can be decided as a matter of law. See State v. Tesch, 704 N.W.2d 440, 450 (Iowa 2005).

It is well established that a defendant's guilty plea waives all defenses and objections which are not intrinsic to the plea. State v. Antenucci, 608 N.W.2d 19, 19 (Iowa 2000). The State contends the claims that the warrantless search of Wulf's barn was illegal and that evidence obtained as a consequence of that search should have been suppressed were waived by Carroll's guilty plea because they are not matters intrinsic to the plea. Carroll controverts the State's waiver argument, positing his claims on appeal were not waived because they are based on the proposition that his defense counsel was ineffective in failing to (1) comprehend that the warrantless search of the barn was illegal, (2) file a motion to suppress all evidence derived from the search, and (3) properly advise Carroll as to whether he should enter a guilty plea in light of the circumstances surrounding the warrantless search of Wulf's barn. These claimed failures of counsel, Carroll asserts, were intrinsic to the plea because they caused him to improvidently plead guilty to a charge that the State could not have proven had counsel performed effectively. Our resolution of this issue is aided by a review of the case law addressing the extent to which a guilty plea waives defendant's defenses and objections and eliminates them as a ground for relief on direct appeal and in postconviction proceedings.

A defendant's guilty plea is not necessarily rendered involuntary merely because it follows his defense counsel's mistaken assessment of the admissibility of the State's evidence. Parker v. North Carolina, 397 U.S. 790, 796-97, 90 S.Ct.

767 N.W.2d 642

1458, 1462, 25 L.Ed.2d 785, 791-92 (1970). This proposition is based upon the fact that criminal cases in general, and guilty pleas in particular, are characterized by considerable uncertainty:

[T]he decision to plead guilty before the evidence is in frequently involves the making of difficult judgments. All the pertinent facts normally cannot be known unless witnesses are examined and cross-examined in court. Even then the truth will often be in dispute. In the face of unavoidable uncertainty, the defendant and his counsel must make their best judgment as to the weight of the State's case. Counsel must predict how the facts, as he understands them, would be viewed by a court. If proved, would those facts convince a judge or jury of the defendant's guilt? On those facts would evidence seized without a warrant be admissible? Would the trier of fact on those facts find a confession voluntary and admissible? Questions like these cannot be answered with certitude; yet a decision to plead guilty must necessarily rest upon counsel's answers, uncertain as they may be. Waiving trial entails the inherent risk that the good-faith evaluations of a reasonably competent attorney will turn out to be mistaken either as to the facts or as to what a court's judgment might be on given facts.

McMann v. Richardson, 397 U.S. 759, 769-770, 90 S.Ct. 1441, 1448, 25 L.Ed.2d 763, 772-73 (1970) (citing Brady v. United States, 397 U.S. 742, 756-57, 90 S.Ct. 1463, 1473-74, 25 L.Ed.2d 747, 760-61 (1970)). Thus, "a defendant's plea of guilty based on reasonably competent advice is an intelligent plea not open to attack on the ground that counsel may have misjudged the admissibility of...

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269 practice notes
  • State v. Lyle, No. 11-1339
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 18, 2014
    ...222 N.W.2d 409, 415 (Iowa 1974). This rule, however, like most other rules, is not without exceptions. See, e.g., State v. Carroll, 767 N.W.2d 638, 644-45 (IowaPage 72009) (addressing an issue raised for the first time in the State's appellee brief, which the defendant would have been unlik......
  • Schmidt v. State, No. 15-1408
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • March 23, 2018
    ...stated "criminal cases in general, and guilty pleas in particular, are characterized by considerable uncertainty[.]" State v. Carroll , 767 N.W.2d 638, 642 (Iowa 2009).[T]he decision to plead guilty before the evidence is in frequently involves the making of difficult judgments. All the per......
  • State v. Lyle, No. 11–1339.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 18, 2014
    ...222 N.W.2d 409, 415 (Iowa 1974). This rule, however, like most other rules, is not without exceptions. See, e.g., State v. Carroll, 767 N.W.2d 638, 644–45 (Iowa 2009) (addressing an issue raised for the first time in the State's appellee brief, which the defendant would have been unlikely t......
  • Martin v. Mapes, No. 4:10-cv-00150-JAJ
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Southern District of Iowa
    • February 10, 2011
    ...in arrest of judgment. In Iowa, "a guilty plea waives all defenses and objections which are not intrinsic to the plea." State v. Carroll, 767 N.W.2d 638, 641 (Iowa 2009) (citing State v.Page 18Antenucci, 608 N.W.2d 19, 19 (Iowa 2000)). Furthermore, "[c]laims arising from the denial of a mot......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
271 cases
  • State v. Lyle, No. 11-1339
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 18, 2014
    ...222 N.W.2d 409, 415 (Iowa 1974). This rule, however, like most other rules, is not without exceptions. See, e.g., State v. Carroll, 767 N.W.2d 638, 644-45 (IowaPage 72009) (addressing an issue raised for the first time in the State's appellee brief, which the defendant would have been unlik......
  • Schmidt v. State, No. 15-1408
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • March 23, 2018
    ...stated "criminal cases in general, and guilty pleas in particular, are characterized by considerable uncertainty[.]" State v. Carroll , 767 N.W.2d 638, 642 (Iowa 2009).[T]he decision to plead guilty before the evidence is in frequently involves the making of difficult judgments. All the per......
  • State v. Lyle, No. 11–1339.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 18, 2014
    ...222 N.W.2d 409, 415 (Iowa 1974). This rule, however, like most other rules, is not without exceptions. See, e.g., State v. Carroll, 767 N.W.2d 638, 644–45 (Iowa 2009) (addressing an issue raised for the first time in the State's appellee brief, which the defendant would have been unlikely t......
  • Martin v. Mapes, No. 4:10-cv-00150-JAJ
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States State District Court of Southern District of Iowa
    • February 10, 2011
    ...in arrest of judgment. In Iowa, "a guilty plea waives all defenses and objections which are not intrinsic to the plea." State v. Carroll, 767 N.W.2d 638, 641 (Iowa 2009) (citing State v.Page 18Antenucci, 608 N.W.2d 19, 19 (Iowa 2000)). Furthermore, "[c]laims arising from the denial of a mot......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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