Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Walker

Court of Appeals of Iowa

November 21, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ELISA MARIE WALKER, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Bradley J. Harris, Judge.

         Eliza Walker appeals after pleading guilty to one count of second-degree theft and one count of identity theft.

          R. Ben Stone of Parrish Kruidenier Dunn Boles Gribble Gentry Brown & Bergmann LLP, Des Moines, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Timothy M. Hau, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Heard by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Doyle, JJ.

          DOYLE, JUDGE.

         Eliza Walker appeals after pleading guilty to one count of second-degree theft and one count of identity theft. She contends her counsel was ineffective in allowing her to plead guilty when questions existed concerning her competency.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         Walker was arrested on July 31, 2017, in connection with the charges that gave rise to this appeal. On August 10, 2017, the State charged her with one count of second-degree theft (obtain property of another by deception), and one count of identity theft over $1000 and under $10, 000. While in jail awaiting trial, Walker sent the court numerous ex parte communications in which she asked for the court's assistance. Walker referred to her mental health in almost every correspondence, at various times stating she was "mentally ill" or "very sick mentally." She also referred to her "medical problems," "mental health problem," a "serious mental impairment," and a "mental disorder," in addition to claiming that her "brain is very bad," she had "brain problems," her "health is fallen apart," and that she has "great health needs." She complained that she was not being treated in jail "for brain, chest, back, blood clots," and that she was "really sick mentally brain and blood clots. Medical can't help me." She said she was "very sick and Medical can't help me, I'm a brain Pt and very sick." She said she was "feeling like I'm gon[n]a die with these people," and that she needed emergency medical attention. The court entered orders noting it had received the ex parte communications and also ordered the clerk of court to provide Walker's counsel with copies of the correspondence.

         At the initial hearing, the district court approved Walker's application for court-appointed counsel. The court first appointed the public defender's office to represent Walker before appointing Dan O'Brien on August 4. O'Brien filed a motion to withdraw as Walker's counsel on November 12, stating there had been "an irreparable breakdown in attorney client communications" and a conflict of interest. The court appointed Jared Knapp, who represented Walker in other pending criminal matters, to represent Walker on the theft charges.

         On December 6, 2017, a guilty plea hearing was held. It does not appear that the hearing was reported. The court's order states, "At the time set for hearing, [Walker] was unable to render a valid plea to the Court. The matter is returned to the trial docket."

         On December 8, an unscheduled plea hearing was held before a different judge. During the plea colloquy, the court engaged Walker and her counsel in a lengthy discussion about her mental health, beginning by inquiring about her medication:

THE COURT: Are you currently on any medication?
THE DEFENDANT: A lot.
THE COURT: What medication are you on?
THE DEFENDANT: I don't even know the name of all of them they give me over there. And I-they're wrong, but they have me take them.
THE COURT: Okay.
THE DEFENDANT: A lot.
THE COURT: What are you taking medication for?
THE DEFENDANT: Because of my brain, for my back, and for my depression. These things that's on here (indicating)-let me see. Where'd they go to? (Peruses document.)
Anxiety, depression, and mood instability. And I have something else. There's some-couple of other things. Oh, schizophrenia disorder and bipolar.
THE COURT: Are-all the medications you're taking, are they prescribed by a doctor?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, from over at the jail.
THE COURT: And are you taking them the way the doctor prescribed them?
THE DEFENDANT: Yeah.
THE COURT: Have you taken the medicine that you were supposed to take for today?
THE DEFENDANT: Yeah.
THE COURT: Is there anything about any of that medication that makes it difficult for you to understand what's happening?
THE DEFENDANT: No.
THE COURT: Mr. Knapp, in your conversations with Ms. Walker and the fact that she's on medication, do you have any concerns with her ability to understand ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.