Rhoades v. State of Iowa, Opening Brief of Applicant/ Appellant and Request for Oral Argument, Supreme Court of Iowa, Glazebrook & Moe, LLP, Lambda Legal (2012)

Pleadings and Briefs

Nick Rhoades's opening brief and request for oral argument to the Supreme Court of Iowa in his 2012 appeal of the denial of his application for post-conviction relief. In 2008, Rhoades was convicted of criminal transmission of HIV under Iowa Code § 701C.1 after a one-time consensual sexual encounter that occurred prior to the disclosure of his HIV status. 

In his opening brief, Rhoades argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when his attorney allowed the trial court to accept his guilty plea without first establishing that he fully understood each element of the offense during the plea colloquy – specifically, that the State had to prove that he intentionally exposed his bodily fluids to the body part of another in a way that could transmit HIV. He argues there are no facts to suggest that he intended to do so, and in fact, his condom use and other safer sex practices demonstrate his intent not to expose his partner to his bodily fluid. For these reasons, there is no factual basis for Rhoades's guilty plea or the conviction pursuant to that plea.

Rhoades also argues that his attorney failed to research, understand, and investigate the elements of the crime with which he was charged. His attorney's lack of due diligence and failure to fully advise Rhoades resulted in the trial court's accepting a guilty plea for which there was no factual basis.

The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, the Center for HIV Law and Policy, and the HIV Law Project submitted an amicus brief in support of Rhoades's appeal. Amici argued that Rhoades's conduct is consistent with Iowa state and federal public health policies and practices that encourage risk reduction through condom use and other safer sex practices, and that encourage, without mandating, an individual's disclosure of HIV status to partners.

The State's response brief can be found here.