FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Charlotte County; Donald H. Mason,
L. Dimmig, II, Public Defender, and Pamela H. Izakowitz,
Assistant Public Defender, Bartow, for Appellant.
Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and C. Todd Chapman,
Assistant Attorney General, Tampa, for Appellee.
Lee Angeles seeks review of her judgments and sentences in
four separate cases for various drug charges. Angeles entered
an open plea to the charges and was sentenced to thirty years
in prison with various stacked mandatory minimums. Defense
counsel filed a motion to withdraw plea after sentencing
which the court denied without appointing conflict-free
counsel or hearing argument from Angeles. Because the motion
was facially sufficient and established an adversarial
relationship with counsel, this was error.
Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.170(l) provides for the
withdrawal of a plea after sentencing "only upon the
grounds specified in Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure
9.140(b)(2)(A)(ii)(a)-(e) except as provided by law."
Rule 9.140(b)(2)(A)(ii)(c) provides for withdrawal when a
plea is involuntary. The defendant bears the burden of
proving that a manifest injustice occurred which compels
withdrawal of the plea. Griffin v. State, 114 So.3d
890, 897 (Fla. 2013).
defendant is entitled to be represented by counsel at a
hearing on a motion to withdraw plea because it is a critical
stage of proceedings. Galarza v. State, 150 So.3d
1209, 1211 (Fla. 2d DCA 2014). When a defendant files a
facially sufficient motion setting forth an adversarial
relationship with counsel, the court is required to appoint
conflict-free counsel unless the record conclusively refutes
the motion's allegations. Id.
case, defense counsel filed a motion to withdraw plea
containing the following two allegations:
(1) Client has indicted [sic] that her plea was entered
unknowingly and involuntarily.
(2) Conflict free counsel will need to be assigned for
hearing on the motion, counsel informed the court that he
received a letter from Angeles stating that she wanted to
appeal. Counsel visited with Angeles at jail and told her
there was no legal basis for an appeal. During the
conversation he realized that Angeles thought he had
performed deficiently and might want to withdraw her plea on
this basis. Counsel told the court that Angeles "would
probably need a conflict free counsel" to pursue the
motion on the basis that the plea was unknowing and
involuntary due to counsel's failure to provide
said he thought the motion was facially sufficient and he did
not know if Angeles would want to make an argument without
conflict-free counsel. The court responded, "I won't
hear argument. I'll hear argument from counsel this
morning, but I haven't heard really any argument."
The court noted that the rules required that the defendant
establish a manifest injustice and summarily concluded that
counsel had not made such a showing.
explained that it would be awkward for him to argue his own
ineffectiveness and again suggested that the court appoint
conflict-free counsel. Counsel said it would be easier for
Angeles to speak candidly about his ineffective assistance