Wood v. Sinclair

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Habeas Corpus
  • Date Filed: 08-10-2011
  • Case #: 09-99003
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Paez for the Court; Circuit Judges Tallman and M. Smith
  • Full Text Opinion

Under Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975), the statement, “[he] will be prepared to proceed without counsel,” is not “an expression of an unequivocal desire to represent himself” and does not entitle appellants to relief under an ineffective assistance of counsel claim.

In a Washington state court, Dwayne Woods was convicted of two counts of aggravated murder in the first degree, one count of attempted murder in the first degree, and one count of attempting to elude a police vehicle. At his trial in 1997, a jury sentenced Woods to death. In denying his post-conviction relief, the Washington Supreme Court upheld his conviction and death sentence. Woods filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal district court, which was denied. Woods then appealed his denial of habeas relief, contending (1) he was denied the right to represent himself, (2) the state court’s admission of certain evidence violated the Confrontation Clause, (3) the State withheld material, exculpatory evidence, and (4) ineffective assistance of counsel. In its analysis of each claim for relief, the Ninth Circuit held: (1) the Washington Supreme Court’s determination that Wood’s pre-trial statement that he “will be prepared to proceed without counsel” is not an expression of an unequivocal desire to represent himself; (2) Woods cannot establish prejudice as a result of the Confrontation Clause violation, and is thus not entitled to relief; (3) Woods failed to develop the factual basis of his withholding of exculpatory evidence claim, and it cannot properly be attributed to the prosecution’s failure to disclose relevant evidence; and (4) Woods is not entitled to relief on his ineffective assistance of counsel claim because he did not point to specific acts or omissions that may have resulted from counsel’s inexperience or other professional obligations. In conclusion, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Wood’s petition. AFFIRMED.

Advanced Search