WA Legal Roundup: Division II
Pugh was charged with assault after striking a police officer. He plead guilty and his guilty plea was entered. Prior to sentencing he moved to proceed pro se, which was granted and then moved to withdraw his guilty plea. The trial court denied his motion to withdraw his guilty plea; he was sentenced to nine months and now appeals arguing that his stand in counsel was ineffective in failing to get affidavits to support his motion.
The appellate court ruled that Pugh failed to present any evidence to show a manifest injustice and therefore the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying his motion. They relied on his plea hearing transcript in which he stated his guilty plea was made freely and voluntarily. Moreover a forensic evaluation found that Pugh was competent to stand trial.
Moreover, the court found that once a criminal defendant exercises their right to self- representation they cannot later come back to allege ineffective assistance of counsel, however, one can allege ineffective counsel of a standby counsel if a limited duty or obligation owed to the pro se was violated. The appellate court found that Pugh’s standby counsel did not owe him a duty to obtain affidavits or get witnesses to support his motion to withdraw his guilty plea.