from the Iowa District Court for Marion County, Dustria A.
defendant appeals the district court's denial of her
request for substitute counsel.
Marshall W. Orsini of Law Offices of Marshall W Orsini,
P.L.C., Des Moines, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Tyler J. Buller, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Potterfield and Tabor,
Pion appeals her conviction for violation of a custodial
order, a class "D" felony in violation of Iowa Code
section 710.6 (2015). On appeal, Pion maintains the district
court abused its discretion when it denied her pro se motion
for substitute counsel, which she filed several months after
August 4, 2017, Pion pled guilty to violating a custodial
order. Pion was informed on the record that she had to file a
motion in arrest of judgment within forty-five days if she
wanted to contest her guilty plea.
was initially set to take place on October 12. However, on
October 11, Pion's counsel filed a motion to continue
sentencing in order to allow Pion to "arrange the
transfer of [her] probation to [her] home state" of
Texas. The State did not resist, and sentencing was
rescheduled for December 14.
November 28, 2017, Pion filed a pro se motion requesting
substitute counsel be appointed. Pion alleged that her
attorney had not responded to her communications since
October 11. Additionally, she claimed her attorney
"urged her to plead guilty and states there is no
defense however we really have only discussed the case a max
of about 30 minutes since March 2017." She asked for
sentencing to be "postponed until January or February in
order to consult with a new appointed attorney."
court took up the issue at the time scheduled for the
sentencing hearing on December 14. At the outset, the court
stated to Pion, "This is your motion. What would you
like for me to know?" In response, Pion said:
I have reached out to my attorney multiple times to get more
clarification on the case and what to expect, what the next
step was. I would not get responses for a very long time, a
very long time. I was urged to just plead guilty because it
was stated that I did not have a defense.
I just want my best possible defense is all. I don't
really know if pleading guilty was the right thing to do. I
don't know if there is a way to change that ...