from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Henry W.
Latham II, Judge.
Campbell appeals his conviction, judgment, and sentence
following a jury trial and verdict finding him guilty of
first-degree burglary and second-degree criminal mischief.
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Mary K. Conroy,
Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, Benjamin Parrott, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.
VAITHESWARAN, Presiding Judge.
Campbell came to the apartment of acquaintance Durrell Parks,
who was watching a movie with his uncle, Atrice Chaptman.
Campbell opened the door, entered without Parks'
permission, and hit Parks. Chaptman heard the commotion and
"football-tackled" and "body-slammed"
Campbell, who he had known for several years. Chaptman
eventually released Campbell, and Campbell left.
later, Chaptman saw Campbell breaking the windows of his
vehicle with "some bricks or something." Chaptman
was arrested and charged with (1) first-degree burglary, (2)
second-degree criminal mischief, and (3) assault causing
bodily injury. An attorney was appointed to represent him.
ensuing months, Campbell filed a plethora of motions,
including a belated motion questioning his competency to
stand trial and motions to represent himself, one of which
was granted. Campbell represented himself through part of the
trial, with stand-by counsel present. After trial, the jury
found him guilty as charged. The district court imposed
sentence, and this appeal followed.
contends (1) he was not competent to stand trial and the
district court's failure to order a competency evaluation
violated his due process rights; (2) the district court
should not have concluded he was competent to represent
himself; (3) in the alternative, he was denied his
constitutional right to self- representation early in the
proceedings; (4) the district court erred in admitting
hearsay evidence; and (5) the district court violated his due
process rights by excluding certain witness testimony.
Competency to Stand Trial
trial of an incompetent defendant in a criminal matter
violates the defendant's due process rights . . . ."
State v. Lyman, 776 N.W.2d 865, 871 (Iowa 2010)
(citing Cooper v. Oklahoma, 517 U.S. 348, 354
(1996)), overruled on other grounds by Alcala v.
Marriott Int'l, Inc., 880 N.W.2d 699, 708, n.3 (Iowa
2016). If the defendant "alleges specific facts showing
that the defendant is suffering from a mental disorder which
prevents the defendant from appreciating the charge,
understanding the proceedings, or assisting effectively in
the defense, the court shall suspend further proceedings and
determine if probable cause exists to sustain the
allegations." Iowa Code § 812.3(1)
(2015). In addition,
The court may on its own motion schedule a hearing to
determine probable cause if the defendant or defendant's
attorney has failed or refused to make an application under
this section and the court finds that there are specific
facts showing that a hearing should be held on that question.
competency issue arose as follows. On the third day of trial,
Campbell's stand-by attorney filed a "Motion to
Determine Competency Pursuant to I.C.A. § 812.3."
The district court "suspend[ed] the proceedings" to
address the motion. Campbell explained he had not been
receiving his "meds at the proper time." He stated
he was "struggling from anxiety, " had been
"diagnosed with a mental illness, " and was
"hearing things [and] seeing things." He asked for
a psychological examination to determine if he was competent
to stand trial.
court found Campbell had "been very competent in
handling [his] affairs, " was responding to inquiries
and statements made by the judge and prosecutor, and
"fully underst[oo]d exactly what [was] happening"
on that day and on previous days in the courtroom. The court
declined to order a psychological examination.
arguments ensued. Campbell voiced numerous objections to the
State's closing argument and subsequent rebuttal. His
argument was lengthy; he addressed the jury instructions,
witness credibility, and the relief he was seeking. After the
jury found Campbell guilty, he raised his claimed lack of
competency again, asserting that he had been diagnosed with
schizophrenia and was hospitalized for psychiatric issues as
a child. He also asserted he had received "bad
meds." At sentencing, the district court denied all
appeal, Campbell again asserts he "was not competent to
stand trial." In his view, the district court (1) had a
duty to order a competency hearing sua sponte, (2) should
have suspended proceedings and ordered a competency
evaluation after his mid-trial motion to determine
competency, and (3) should have ordered an evaluation after a
verdict was reached but prior to sentencing. Our review is de
novo. Lyman, 776 N.W.2d at 873.
record evinces odd, disruptive, and sometimes irrational
behaviors on Campbell's part. But these types of
behaviors do not necessarily equate with incompetency to
stand trial. See Edwards, 507 N.W.2d at 395-97
(describing a defendant's disruptive and aggressive
behavior and concluding he was competent to stand trial);
see also State v. Rhodes, No. 11-0812, 2012 WL
5536685, at *7 (Iowa Ct. App. Nov. 15, 2012) (concluding a
defendant's strange behavior was a result of "her
unwillingness to accept the fact she was being prosecuted and
the fact the court had jurisdiction over her"). As
noted, Campbell had to establish he had a mental disorder
that prevented him "from appreciating the charge,
understanding the proceedings, or assisting effectively in
the defense." Iowa Code § 812.3; accord
Rieflin, 558 N.W.2d at 152-53; Edwards, 507
N.W.2d at 395. His behaviors reflected quite the opposite: a
calculated strategy to delay or derail the proceedings.
See Lyman, 776 N.W.2d at 874 ("We presume a
defendant is competent to stand trial, " and the
defendant carries the burden to prove otherwise by a
preponderance of the evidence).
example, at a hearing on pending motions, Campbell asked the
court whether the prosecutor was the devil, a question that
might have triggered alarm bells if heard out of context.
However, the question came after an exchange in which
Campbell (1) said he was competent to represent himself, (2)
cogently discussed prior legal proceedings in which he was
involved, (3) requested evidentiary depositions, (4) raised a
previously-filed motion for change of venue, (5) mentioned
the maximum sentence on one of the charges, (6) criticized
the court for not overseeing the county attorney's
office, and (7) asked the court about the rejection of a
claimed conflict of interest he asserted underscores
Campbell's ability to understand the proceedings and
mount a defense. Campbell filed pretrial motions accusing the
prosecutor of sexually abusing and harassing him. Without any
formal legal training, Campbell explained the prosecutor
should not have been assigned to this case in light of his
prior relationship with her, a relationship the prosecutor
vehemently denied. He also asserted the assignment amounted
to "a big conflict." He recognized an allegation of
this nature, if proven, could stall the proceedings.
colloquy with the court on his request to represent himself
also highlighted his ability to appreciate the charges,
understand the proceedings, and not merely assist in his
defense, but execute his defense. He knew the penalties
associated with the offenses, understood the duties he would
assume if his request for self-representation were granted,
and as discussed below, expressed uncommon knowledge of the
law and legal process. Cf. Edwards, 507 N.W.2d at
396 ("[I]t is plain to us that Edwards appreciated the
seriousness of the charge and understood the proceedings. He
left no doubt that he was going to take an active role in his
defense and in no uncertain terms explained why.").
acknowledge some references to Campbell's history of
mental illness. For example, at a pretrial conference,
Campbell asserted: "Sir, I'm not understanding
what's going on right now and I haven't been taking
my medicine, " and he additionally stated: "Like I
told you, I haven't been taking my medicine. I'm
sick, sir, and I don't know what's going on."
Yet, Campbell also attested, "I've gotten
recommendation from independent counsel to refuse psych,
" stated he previously had a psychological evaluation,
which concluded he was competent to stand trial, and noted
that he had not been taking a particular medicine but the
medication was only for anxiety, not "because of mental,
" and he had his anxiety "under control."
See Rieflin, 558 N.W.2d at 153 ("A history of
mental illness, standing alone, does not mean the defendant
is incompetent."); cf. Edwards, 507 N.W.2d at
398 (stating defendant "knows he has a mental impairment
and uses it to . . . extricate himself from legal
difficulties"). As the State observed, "What
appears irrational in the abstract may prove wily with the
proper frame of reference." Campbell's discerning
comment that "[t]his is not a tactic, Your Honor,