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Price v. State

Court of Appeals of Iowa

March 12, 2014

RAMON PRICE, Applicant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF IOWA, Respondent-Appellee

Editorial Note:

This decision is published in table format in the North Western Reporter.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Christopher L. McDonald, Judge. Ramon Price appeals from the district court's denial of his application for postconviction relief.

Laura Lockwood of Lockwood Law Firm, P.L.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorney General, John P. Sarcone, County Attorney, and Michael Hunter, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee State.

Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vaitheswaran and Mullins, JJ. McDonald, J., takes no part.

OPINION

VAITHESWARAN, J.

The State charged Ramon Price with two counts of first-degree robbery and two counts of second-degree robbery in connection with thefts from two Des Moines stores. A jury found Price guilty of one count of first-degree robbery and two counts of second-degree robbery.[1] Price appealed, raising a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence and the district court's assessment of a surcharge. State v. Price, No. 07-1450, 2008 WL 5412322, at *1-2 (Iowa Ct. App. Dec. 31, 2008). This court affirmed Price's convictions, and vacated the surcharge. See, [WL] at *2.

Price filed an application for postconviction relief, raising several ineffective-assistance-of-appellate-counsel claims. The district court denied Price's application following a hearing.

On appeal, Price contends his direct-appeal attorney was ineffective in failing to challenge (1) the district court's denial of his motion to replace his trial attorney, (2) the district court's denial of his motion to sever the first-degree robbery count from one of the remaining counts, and (3) the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the first-degree robbery count. To prove his claims, he must establish a breach of an essential duty and prejudice. See Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 80 L.Ed.2d 674 (1984).

I. Substitution of Trial Counsel

" Where a defendant represented by a court-appointed attorney requests the court appoint substitute counsel, sufficient cause must be shown to justify replacement." State v. Tejeda, 677 N.W.2d 744, 749-50 (Iowa 2004). " Sufficient cause includes a conflict of interest, irreconcilable conflict, or a complete breakdown in communication between the attorney and the defendant." State v. Lopez, 633 N.W.2d 774, 778 (Iowa 2001).

Price filed two motions to replace his attorney. He withdrew the second motion after telling the judge he wished " to keep" his attorney and he did not " see any reason why" they should separate. To the extent Price now cites reasons supporting the second motion, we decline to consider them.

Price's first motion sought the replacement of counsel " due to overload of cases and lack of proper counsel and advice." Price was given an opportunity to explain his concerns at a hearing on his motion. See Tejeda, 677 N.W.2d at 750 (stating if a defendant requests substitute counsel on the basis of a breakdown in communication with the attorney, a ...


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