The Iowa Supreme Court has issued a split opinion saying Jacob Schmidt, a Sioux City man who plead guilty, can have his case reviewed after the victim changed his story.
Radio Iowa’s Dar Danielson reports.
Jacob Lee Schmidt of Sioux City pleaded guilty to incest and assault with intent to commit sexual abuse on a younger relative.
He asked to have his conviction vacated after the victim recanted.
The Iowa Supreme Court ruling says sometimes an innocent person is choosing the lesser of two evils: pleading guilty despite his or her actual innocence because the odds are stacked up against him or her, or going to trial with the risk of losing and the prospect of receiving a harsher sentence.
In its first ruling on the subject, the court says the Iowa Constitution allows freestanding claims of actual innocence, so applicants may bring such claims to attack their pleas even though they entered their pleas knowingly and voluntarily.
The court ordered the case sent back to the district court.
There were two dissenting opinions from justices Waterman, Mansfield and Zager.
The dissent says Schmidt closed the door to an appeal when he pleaded guilty in court and admitted what he had done.
It says the majority opinion relies too much on cases in which the defendant steadfastly maintained his or her innocence through trial and all subsequent appeals.