2014 Opinion No. 94
Appeal from the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District, State of Idaho, Madison County. Hon. Gregory W. Moeller, District Judge.
Sara B. Thomas, State Appellate Public Defender; Shawn F. Wilkerson, Deputy Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for appellant. Shawn F. Wilkerson argued.
Hon. Lawrence G. Wasden, Attorney General; Lori A. Fleming, Deputy Attorney General, Boise, for respondent. Lori A. Fleming argued.
KIDWELL, Judge Pro Tem. Chief Judge GUTIERREZ and Judge MELANSON CONCUR.
KIDWELL, Judge Pro Tem
William Jack Bias was convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol. After he was sentenced, he filed several motions, including a motion for substitute counsel and an Idaho Criminal Rule 35 motion, seeking leniency regarding his sentence. His motions were denied and Bias appealed. He argues that the court erred bye denying his motion for substitute counsel and proceeding to decide his other motions. He also argues that the district court failed to adequately consider mitigating factors at sentencing.
Bias was charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in violation of Idaho Code § 18-8004 and with misdemeanor injury to a child in violation of I.C. § 18-1501(3). The State also filed a charging enhancement pursuant to I.C. § 18-8005(6), alleging that Bias had been previously convicted of three prior DUIs. After the public defender was appointed to represent him, the injury to a child charge was dismissed and Bias pleaded guilty to the DUI charge. After a sentencing hearing, the court imposed a unified term of ten years with five years determinate.
Nearly a month after the sentence had been pronounced, Bias filed a Rule 35 motion, through counsel, seeking leniency on his sentence. Two months later, before the Rule 35 motion was adjudicated, Bias filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea and a motion for the appointment of substitute counsel. Both motions relied upon the assertion that counsel and Bias had discussed the case after Bias pleaded guilty. At that time, Bias " questioned [his attorney] about an issue [Bias] had brought up previously, and [the attorney's] response was, 'Yeah, we could have argued that, before you plead[ed] Guilty.'" Bias argued that the poor advice was a sufficient basis for the withdrawal of his plea and " caused the Attorney/Client relationship to become irreparably damaged" warranting the appointment of substitute counsel. Bias also requested an order authorizing transportation from the prison so that he could be present at any hearing.
The court held a hearing on the pending motions. At the hearing, the court denied the Rule 35 motion, without prejudice, after reviewing the mitigating and aggravating factors it had considered at sentencing. Next, it held that Bias had failed to prove manifest injustice, the requirement to withdraw a guilty plea after sentencing. Finally, it discussed the motion for substitute counsel. In the court's view, Bias was attempting to have counsel appointed for a potential post-conviction action before filing a petition and without following the procedures set forth by statute. The court asked counsel to inform Bias that these issues would be better raised in post-conviction proceedings and that counsel might be available through those proceedings.
Thereafter, the district court entered a written order denying the pending motions. It ruled that the motion for new counsel was " deemed unnecessary, given the appointment of appellate counsel."  It denied the Rule 35 motion because the sentence was " just and appropriate under the ...