State v. Todd

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 07-23-2014
  • Case #: A148667
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Duncan, P.J. for the Court; Wollheim, J.; & Schuman, S.J.
  • Full Text Opinion

When a trial court presents a defendant with the option to continue with their present lawyer or proceed pro se, it must determine that the defendant fully understands the risks of pro se representation, and has intentionally relinquished their right to counsel.

Defendant was charged with and convicted of multiple counts of attempted prostitution and prostitution procurement. She was represented by six attorneys in succession, many of which moved to withdraw as counsel, including the sixth who defendant was dissatisfied with. The trial court presented defendant with a choice: to continue with counsel, or represent herself. Though defendant was confused by the choice, she chose to represent herself. During the trial, defendant often repeated that she did not understand the procedure and did not want to be pro se. On appeal, defendant argued she did not knowingly and voluntarily waive her right to counsel because she was forced to represent herself or proceed with an attorney who she believed was not prepared for trial. The Court held that when a trial court presents a defendant with the option to continue with their present lawyer or proceed pro se, it must determine that the defendant fully understands the risks of pro se representation, and has intentionally relinquished their right to counsel. Here, the trial court did not sufficiently establish that defendant understood the risk of her choice. Reversed and remanded.

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