Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Poweshiek County, Joel D. Yates, Judge.
A defendant contends the district court abused its discretion in denying his request for substitute counsel and argues his attorney was ineffective in investigating the case.
Geneva L. Williams of Williams Law Office, P.L.L.C., Cedar Rapids, for appellant.
Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Elisabeth S. Reynoldson, Assistant Attorney General, Michael Mahaffey, until retirement, and Becky Petig, County Attorneys.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Potterfield, JJ.
Tyson Kidd appeals his judgment and sentence for second-degree theft. He contends the district court abused its discretion in denying his request for substitute counsel and his attorney was ineffective in investigating the case.
I. Background Facts and Proceedings
The State charged Kidd with second-degree theft and conspiracy in connection with the removal of laptop computers and iPhones from the Grinnell Wal-Mart store. Trial was scheduled for the week before the expiration of the one-year speedy trial deadline. See Iowa R. Crim. P. 2.33(2)(c). On the day of trial, Kidd twice expressed concerns about his attorney's preparedness, first in chambers and then after the jury was impaneled. He asked for substitute counsel and said he would waive the speedy trial deadline if his request was granted. The court considered his assertion, his mother's comment that an approach to the trial had not been discussed with the attorney "until a minute ago, " and the attorneys' responses. The court decided to proceed with trial as scheduled. Shortly thereafter, Kidd reiterated his wish to fire his attorney and have substitute counsel appointed. The court again questioned Kidd before denying his request.
The jury found Kidd guilty as charged. The district court merged conspiracy with theft and imposed sentence on the theft count. This appeal followed.
II. Request for Substitute Counsel
Kidd argues the district court abused its discretion in denying his request for substitute counsel. See State v. Lopez, 633 N.W.2d 774, 778 (Iowa 2001) (setting forth the standard of review). He acknowledges the issue was not raised prior to the date of trial but argues a motorcycle accident and his placement on pain medications may have impeded his efforts.
A defendant wishing to secure substitute counsel must show sufficient cause for substitution. Id. at 778–79. "'Sufficient cause includes a conflict of interest, irreconcilable conflict, or a complete breakdown in communication between the attorney and the defendant.'" Id. at 779 (quoting State v. Martin, 608 N.W.2d 445, 449 (Iowa 2009)).
When a court receives a request for substitute counsel based on a claimed breakdown in communication between the defendant and present counsel, the court has a duty to inquire about the nature of the breakdown. Tejeda, 677 N.W.2d at 750–51. After making the inquiry, the court must balance "the defendant's right to counsel of his choice and the public's interest in the prompt and efficient administration of justice." Lopez, 633 N.W.2d at 779 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). ...