Arrendondo v. Neven

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 08-18-2014
  • Case #: 11-15581
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Berzon for the Court; Circuit Judges Fernandez and Paez
  • Full Text Opinion

Supreme Court precedent, “does not require a defendant waiving his right to counsel to understand the potential application of recidivist sentencing enhancements that had not yet been charged, and were not required to have been charged at the time of the waiver.”

Armis Arrendondo, on trial for theft charges, chose to represent himself after having difficulty with a handful of court appointed public defense attorneys representing him. At a hearing on his Motion to Dismiss Counsel the court engaged him in a string of questioning to determine if his request to dismiss counsel was his request to waive his right to counsel and if so, whether he was doing so knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily as required by the Sixth Amendment. The Court advised him of the difficulties of pro se defense and the penalties possible with the theft charge and Arrendondo confirmed his understanding. Late habitual criminal charges were brought due to Arrendondo’s previous criminal convictions and at the end of the hearing the jury convicted him and he was sentenced to two concurrent life sentences with the possibility of parole after ten years. Arrendondo appealed arguing that the State’s failure to advise the district court that Arrendondo might be charged as a habitual criminal made Arrendondo’s waiver of counsel invalid. The panel notes that Arrendondo must demonstrate that the Nevada Supreme Court’s decision (1) was “contrary to” clearly established federal law and (2) that the court “involved an unreasonable application of such law.” The panel reviewed to determine whether the Nevada Supreme Court showed that Arrendondo understood the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation. The panel determined that case precedent does not require a defendant waiving his right to counsel to understand the potential application of recidivist sentencing enhancements that had not yet been charged and were not required to have been charged at the time of the waiver. Therefore the Nevada Supreme Court is AFFIRMED.

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