FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF DONA ANA COUNTY Marci E. Beyer,
H. Balderas, Attorney General Maris Veidemanis, Assistant
Attorney General Santa Fe, NM for Appellee
Bennett J. Baur, Chief Public Defender Santa Fe, NM Steven J.
Forsberg, Assistant Appellate Defender Albuquerque, NM for
MICHAEL E. VIGIL, JUDGE
1} Defendant Ernest Bryan Barela appeals the
district court's denial of his motion to proceed pro se,
made after years of delay and on the morning trial was set to
begin, and raises a claim of ineffective assistance of
counsel. We affirm.
was charged with residential burglary, unlawful taking of a
motor vehicle, stalking, larceny, and escape or attempt to
escape from a peace officer on June 21, 2012. Defendant's
charges stemmed from an event on May 22, 2012, involving
Defendant's ex-girlfriend, E. Ramirez. Defendant and Ms.
Ramirez had been involved in a two-year relationship and had
a child together in March 2012. However, Ms. Ramirez ended
their relationship in early May 2012.
3} Ms. Ramirez testified during Defendant's
trial that, on May 22, 2012, as she went inside her
mother's house-a mobile home with an attached garage-and
attempted to close the door behind her, Defendant pulled the
door from the outside and tried to open it. Defendant asked
Ms. Ramirez to open the door so they could talk. Ms. Ramirez
told him to leave or she was going to call 911. However,
Defendant persisted and said he wanted to see their child.
Ms. Ramirez refused to open the door but told Defendant that
he could see their child through the glass.
Ramirez testified that Defendant then pulled a pocket knife
and threatened to cut his own throat. Ms. Ramirez still would
not open the door and told Defendant that she would call his
father to give him a ride home. After Defendant threatened to
beat her up, Ms. Ramirez hid inside her mother's garage
and called 911. Ms. Ramirez stayed inside the garage and
heard Defendant trying to open the door to the garage.
Shortly thereafter, Deputy Sheriff Paul Telles arrived at the
house but was unable to find anyone else inside. Ms. Ramirez
then left the garage and noticed that her purse, wherein she
kept her car keys and credit cards, and vehicle were missing.
5} On June 6, 2012, Deputy Telles went to
Defendant's home to serve an arrest warrant on Defendant.
While there, Deputy Telles spoke with Defendant's father
who informed Deputy Telles that he had no contact with
Defendant. After receiving permission from Defendant's
father, Deputy Telles searched the home to ensure Defendant
was not inside. Deputy Telles found Defendant hiding inside
one of the kitchen's cabinets and placed him under
his arraignment on July 2, 2012, Defendant requested a new
attorney on three separate occasions. On January 9, 2013,
Defendant requested a new attorney one day before trial was
scheduled to begin. On March 17, 2014, he requested a new
attorney two days before trial was scheduled to begin. On
February 13, 2015, Defendant requested a new attorney the day
he was scheduled to attend a pre-trial conference in district
court. On all three occasions, the district court granted
Defendant's request, allowed defense counsel to withdraw,
gave Defendant more time to retain new representation, and
gave new defense counsel more time to prepare for trial.
Defendant's actions caused his case to be delayed for
over three years from the date of his arrest. By the third
request, the new judge assigned to Defendant's case
explicitly told Defendant that he was causing his case to be
During a hearing on March 2, 2015, Defendant appeared without
an attorney and without having applied to the public
defender's office, despite the district court's order
to do so for a fourth public defender. After the district
court informed Defendant that a private attorney with whom he
had spoken would not be representing him and that he would
need to hire a public defender, Defendant asked, "And I
can't represent myself? That's what you're
saying?" Defendant agreed to go to the public
defender's office despite his desire to have the private
attorney represent him. Robert Turner, a contract attorney
for the public defender's office, entered his appearance
as Defendant's new counsel. The district court scheduled
Defendant's trial for August 10, 2015.
a pre-trial hearing on August 6, 2015, at which Defendant
failed to appear, Mr. Turner notified the district court that
he needed to briefly interview two officers prior to trial
and could do it the morning of trial because he had already
prepared based on their reports. Mr. Turner notified the
district court in advance that he would have an associate in
his office work on the case and that his associate did not
need to interview Ms. Ramirez.
the morning of trial, Mr. Turner's associate, August
Rane, appeared with Defendant. Defendant requested to
represent himself, stating that he and Mr. Turner had spoken
a great deal already and that Mr. Rane had not spoken with
him before the day of trial, had not interviewed the
witnesses in the case, and did not know the facts that Mr.
Turner knew. However, Mr. Rane informed the district court
that he had discussed the case with Mr. Turner, read all of
the interviews, prepared the case, and would need only a few
minutes to interview one officer. The district court inquired
into Defendant's competence and basis for such a request,
and informed him of the potential pitfalls of
self-representation, the nature of the charges, and possible
penalties associated with each offense. The district court
then asked Defendant if he was ready to proceed to trial that
morning. Defendant responded that he was not ready, at which
point the district court denied Defendant's ...