from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Joel W.
defendant challenges his sentence for murder in the first
C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Theresa R. Wilson,
Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Timothy M. Hau, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Tabor and McDonald, JJ.
1996, Romeo Hardin, then fifteen years old, killed Augustus
Nance. Hardin was convicted of murder in the first degree, in
violation of Iowa Code sections 707.1 and 707.2 (1995), and
sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of
parole. Almost twenty years later, his sentence was vacated
pursuant to a newly-created sentencing scheme for juvenile
offenders. See State v. Null, 836 N.W.2d 41, 74-75
(Iowa 2013); State v. Pearson, 836 N.W.2d 88, 95-98
(Iowa 2013); State v. Ragland, 836 N.W.2d 107,
121-22 (Iowa 2013). The district court held a resentencing
hearing and sentenced Hardin to life in prison without the
possibility of parole. Subsequently, in State v.
Sweet, 879 N.W.2d 811, 839 (Iowa 2016), the supreme
court held "juvenile offenders may not be sentenced to
life in prison without the possibility of parole." The
supreme court vacated Hardin's sentence and remanded the
case for resentencing in accord with Sweet. See
State v. Hardin, No. 14-0978, 2016 WL 4958157, at *1
(Iowa Sept. 16, 2016). On remand, Hardin waived his right to
counsel and elected to represent himself during the
sentencing hearing. The district court sentenced Hardin to
life in prison with the possibility of parole. Hardin timely
filed this appeal.
contends he is entitled to a new sentencing hearing because
his waiver of the right to counsel was not knowing and
voluntary. We review a claim that a defendant's right to
counsel was violated de novo. See State v. Martin,
608 N.W.2d 445, 449 (Iowa 2000). The State has the burden of
proving a defendant's waiver of counsel is valid. See
State v. Rater, 568 N.W.2d 655, 660 (Iowa 1997).
state criminal proceeding, the defendant has a Sixth and
Fourteenth Amendment right to counsel at all critical stages
of the criminal proceeding and the corollary right to
self-representation. See Iowa v. Tovar, 541 U.S. 77,
80-81 (2004) (providing right to counsel exists "at all
critical stages of the criminal process"); Faretta
v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 821 (1975) ("The Sixth
Amendment does not provide merely that a defense shall be
made for the accused; it grants to the accused personally the
right to make his defense.").Sentencing is a critical
stage of the criminal process at which the defendant has the
right to counsel and the right to self-representation.
See State v. Boggs, 741 N.W.2d 492, 506 (Iowa 2007).
the right to self-representation attaches, the defendant must
voluntarily elect to proceed without counsel by
"knowingly and intelligently" waiving his Sixth
Amendment right to counsel. Faretta, 422 U.S. at
835; see Rater, 568 N.W.2d at 658. Before the
district court accepts the request, the court must make the
defendant "aware of the dangers and disadvantages of
self-representation, so that the record will establish that
the defendant 'knows what he is doing and his choice is
made with eyes open.'" Faretta, 422 U.S. at
835 (quoting Adams v. United States, 317 U.S. 269,
279 (1942)). This requires the district court to conduct a
colloquy with the defendant. See Hannan v. State,
732 N.W.2d 45, 55 (Iowa 2007). The degree of inquiry required
varies with the circumstances of the case and the stage of
the proceedings. See Tovar, 541 U.S. at 88. The
waiver inquiry must consider "what purposes a lawyer can
serve at the particular stage of the proceedings in question,
and what assistance he could provide to an accused at that
stage" before a waiver will be granted. Patterson v.
Illinois, 487 U.S. 285, 298 (1988). The Court defines
"the scope of the right to counsel by a pragmatic
assessment of the usefulness of counsel to the accused at the
particular proceeding, and the dangers to the accused of
proceeding without counsel." Id.; see also
State v. Cooley, 608 N.W.2d 9, 15 (Iowa 2000).
conclude the colloquy was sufficient to establish Hardin
knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to counsel and
knowingly and voluntarily elected to represent himself during
the sentencing hearing. "District court judges are often
called upon to navigate the 'thin line' presented in
cases such as this, where they must refrain from
'improperly allowing the defendant to proceed pro se,
thereby violating his right to counsel, and improperly having
the defendant proceed with counsel, thereby violating his
right to self-representation.'" Hannan, 732
N.W.2d at 54 (quoting Fields v. Murray, 49 F.3d
1024, 1029 (4th Cir. 1995)). Here, the district court
appropriately navigated this thin line. The district court
advised Hardin of the nature of the proceeding. The district
court advised Hardin that Hardin would be advantaged by
retaining counsel during the sentencing proceeding and
disadvantaged by representing himself. The district court
also explicitly inquired of Hardin whether his decision was
knowing and voluntary. Hardin answered in the affirmative.
Hardin was clear and unequivocal that he wished to proceed
without counsel and represent himself.
Hardin is correct that the district court failed to
explicitly advise him of the possible sentence prior to
accepting Hardin's waiver, we conclude that fact is of
little consequence under the circumstances. First, the
sentencing hearing at issue was the third sentencing hearing
in this case. Hardin was thus familiar with the sentencing
process. Second, at the second sentencing hearing, Hardin
also sought to represent himself and went through a colloquy
and signed a written waiver of counsel. Hardin was thus
familiar with his right to counsel and his right to
self-representation and the risks associated with proceeding
on his own. Third, there was only one statutorily authorized
sentence available to the district court: a life sentence
with the immediate possibility of parole. See Iowa
Code § 902.1(2)(a)(3). The ultimate utility of counsel
was thus limited. Finally, Hardin agreed to have stand-by
counsel available, and the district court appointed stand-by
also contends his waiver was not knowing and voluntary
because the district court failed to warn him of the
possibility of waiving future claims. Specifically, he argues
he could have built a better record to support claims related
to the practices and procedures of the parole board in
assessing his fitness for parole. This argument is
unavailing. The district court had no obligation to inform
the defendant of the practices and procedures of the parole
board and potential claims related to the same. Those
practices are subject to challenge in an administrative
appeal and are only subject to judicial review upon
exhaustion of administrative remedies. See Johnson v.
Iowa Dep't of Corrs., 635 N.W.2d 487, 489 (Iowa Ct.
App. 2001). Hardin, should he desire, will have the
opportunity to assert his claims in administrative
raises several additional challenges in his pro se briefs.
His non-jurisdictional claims are time-barred and not subject
to the exception for "ground[s] of fact or law that
could not have been raised within the applicable time
period." See Iowa Code § 822.3, .8;
see also Hardin v. State, No. 10-1308, 2012 WL
1864347, at *1 n.1 (Iowa Ct. App. May 23, 2012) (dismissing
similar claims raised by this defendant in an earlier
proceeding). Hardin's jurisdictional ...