from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of
the State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Jonathan Medema,
D. Fredericksen, State Appellate Public Defender, Boise, for
Appellant. Ben P. McGreevy argued.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for
Respondent. Mark W. Olson argued.
judgment of the district court is affirmed.
Meyers appeals from a judgment of conviction for grand theft
on the grounds that he was denied his Sixth Amendment right
to self-representation. For the reasons stated below, we
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
days after his release from prison on an unrelated charge,
Richard Meyers ("Meyers") was arrested for stealing
a pickup truck. He was subsequently charged with felony grand
theft, in violation of Idaho Code sections 18-2403(1),
18-2407(1)(b) and 18-2409, and assigned a public defender.
With the assistance of his appointed counsel, Meyers pleaded
not guilty and waived his right to a jury trial.
months later, dissatisfied with his assigned counsel's
performance, Meyers filed a motion for a "change of an
attorney" with the district court. A hearing on this
motion was held, wherein the district court inquired about
Meyers's problems with his attorney and questioned his
counsel regarding trial preparation. After observing the
court's colloquy with his counsel, Meyers withdrew his
motion, indicating that he wanted to give his attorney
"a chance," and that he could work with his
day set for trial, Meyers's counsel expressed concerns
about his client's mental capacity. The district court
questioned Meyers and ordered that Meyers undergo a
competency evaluation. Although the evaluation report
concluded that Meyers was competent to stand trial, the State
believed that this conclusion was too tenuous and requested a
second evaluation, which the court granted. The second
evaluation concluded that Meyers was not competent to stand
trial. Thus, the court ordered Meyers to undergo mental
health treatment before proceeding.
treatment, Meyers was deemed "fit to proceed" with
trial, and his case was put back on the trial calendar.
Throughout the competency hearings, Meyers repeatedly
expressed dissatisfaction with the pace of the proceedings-at
times directly addressing the court without the assistance or
prior consent of his counsel. Consistent with this practice,
when the court began proposing trial dates at the conclusion
of the final competency hearing, Meyers spoke out, requesting
that the court expedite the trial. The court responded that
it was willing to set the trial for the week between
Christmas and New Year's Day, but Meyers's counsel
indicated that he was unavailable that week. Meyers requested
that the court conduct the trial then and indicated that he
would get a new public defender for the trial. Meyers's
counsel indicated that this was not a possibility and the
State expressed doubts about getting witnesses for the trial
between the two holidays, so the court set the trial for
January 25, 2017.
that day, Meyers sent a letter to the judge requesting that
his one-day bench trial be set between Christmas and New
Year's Day. Additionally, he informed the judge that he
had fired his public defender, was "prepared to
represent" himself, and would present his defense
"as soon as is possible." In the letter, Meyers
explained that "part of the reason" he was
dismissing his assigned counsel was because postponing the
trial would interfere with his transitional housing funding.
He also discussed other objections he had previously raised
about his counsel's performance. Meyers concluded the
letter with the following sentence: "I choose to
exercise the right to defend myself in this matter."
are no indications in the letter that Meyers sent a copy to
his public defender. The letter is stamped
"received" the day after the hearing, and there is
an electronic stamp on the letter indicating that it was
scanned into the Odyssey system, but the record is silent as
to what occurred after the district court received this
letter. The letter was not written in the form of a motion
for the appointment of new counsel; rather, it merely advised
the court of Meyers's decision to "fire" his
attorney of record and represent himself. Meyers did not
submit a request for a hearing or attempt to schedule one.
Nothing in the record suggests that the court ever saw the
letter, or was made aware of its contents, prior to trial.
bench trial occurred, as previously scheduled, on January 25,
2017. At trial, Meyers was represented by new counsel from
the public defender's office. Before the trial began, the
court confirmed that Meyers wished to proceed without a jury
and asked if there were any other matters that needed to be
addressed before the trial began. Meyers, through his new
attorney, confirmed his decision to proceed with a bench
trial. Meyers's counsel requested that Meyers's
restraints be partially removed to free his hand so he could
communicate with his counsel, but he did not raise any other
issues at that time. During the trial, Meyers cooperated with
his new attorney and eventually, with his attorney conducting
the direct examination, testified on his own behalf. His
attorney handled all aspects of the trial, and at no point
during the trial did Meyers or his ...