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State v. Cole

Court of Appeals of Iowa

December 21, 2016

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JAMIE LEE COLE, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Buchanan County, George L. Stigler, Judge.

         Jamie Cole appeals his judgment and sentence for indecent exposure enhanced as a second sexually predatory offense. AFFIRMED.

          John J. Sullivan of Sullivan Law Office, P.C., Oelwein, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Sheryl A. Soich, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.

          VAITHESWARAN, Judge.

         Jamie Cole appeals his judgment and sentence for indecent exposure enhanced as a second sexually predatory offense. He contends (1) he was denied his right to represent himself and (2) the evidence was insufficient to support the jury's finding of guilt.

         I. Right of Self-Representation

         Cole argues, "The district court violated [his] constitutional right to self-representation under the Sixth Amendment when it denied his request to proceed without an attorney." See State v. Johnson, 756 N.W.2d 682, 687 (Iowa 2008) ("The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to self-representation as well as the right to counsel."). The State counters that Cole waived this claim.

         "A waiver [of the right to self-representation] may be found if it reasonably appears to the court that defendant has abandoned his initial request to represent himself." State v. Spencer, 519 N.W.2d 357, 359 (Iowa 1994) (citation omitted). The record supports a finding of a waiver.

         After the State filed a trial information and the district court appointed Cole an attorney, Cole asked his attorney to withdraw and filed a motion to represent himself. At a hearing on these motions, the district court asked Cole if he wished to "continue to request that [his attorney] be withdrawn as [his] attorney." Cole responded, "Yes, ma'am." The court then asked, "Let me make sure that I understand: are you wanting a new attorney appointed to represent you, or are you intending to represent yourself?" Cole responded, "I would have no problem with James Peters out of Independence being appointed." In an effort to clarify, the court stated, "Well, when we do court-appointed counsel, you do not necessarily get to pick your attorney. My question is, are you requesting the appointment of new counsel?" Cole initially responded, "No, ma'am, " but when asked if he "would agree to the appointment of Peters" if the court "were to appoint [him], " Cole responded, "Correct." The court expressed reservations about appointing "a specific attorney to represent someone" but ultimately decided "to appoint Mr. Peters" to represent Cole. The court reset all pending motions to give new counsel an opportunity to consider and discuss them with Cole.

         In time, Cole filed a motion to fire Peters and a motion to represent himself. At a hearing on these motions, the district court engaged in the following exchange with Cole:

COURT: This matter comes before the Court for hearing on several matters this date, most of which are pro se applications of Mr. Cole. There is a July 16, 2015 application to fire Attorney James Peters. What is that about, Mr. Cole? You filed that pro se.
ATTORNEY PETERS: I've asked-Mr. Cole filed this on the 17th, I believe, to have me removed, and I'd let him address ...

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