State v. Menefee

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 12-31-2014
  • Case #: A142997
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Nakamoto, J. for the court; Armstrong, P.J.; & Egan, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

In order to waive the right to counsel, a defendant must express clear intent to do so, under the specific circumstances of the particular case. However, when someone chooses to represent themselves and they are thrown out of court for being disruptive, the defendant has not automatically waived their overall right to representation.

Defendant appealed a conviction of first degree robbery, second-degree robbery, first-degree theft, felon in possession of a firearm, and unlawful use of a weapon. During the trial, Defendant chose to represent himself and was very disruptive and obstinate. Defendant stated that he wished to be excused from the “sham” proceeding and the court allowed him to be removed, due in large part to his disruptive outbursts. The court proceeded without the defendant or defense counsel. As the trial progressed, Defendant refused to leave his cell to attend the proceeding. The first assignment of error was that the court determined that Defendant waived his right to counsel. Second, the defendant was excluded from the courtroom for most of the trial. And finally, the trial court conducted most of the trial without Defendant or his counsel. The Court determined that the trial court did not err in deciding that Defendant had waived his right to counsel because it kept offering him an attorney and he expressed his intention to proceed without one. For the latter two assignments of error, the Court determined that the trial court did not err in removing Defendant from the courtroom because he was disruptive, but it did err by proceeding without him because he was acting as his own attorney and had not waived his overall right to representation by his misbehavior at trial. Reversed and remanded.

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