State v. Langley

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 03-29-2012
  • Case #: S053206
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Durham, J. for the Court; De Muniz, C.J.; Walters, J.; with Gillette, S.J.; and Haselton, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Court cannot infer an intentional and knowing waiver of the right to counsel and compel a defendant to proceed pro se when the defendant never expressly waived the right, but rather remained silent when given the choice of affirmatively accepting his current counsel or proceeding pro se.

This case is on automatic and direct review of a judgment that imposed a sentence of death for aggravated murder. As an assignment of error, Defendant submitted that the trial court erred by requiring him to proceed pro se without first securing a valid waiver of his right to counsel. Having gone through seven different attorneys, the trial court determined that Defendant had demonstrated an "undeniable pattern of manipulation" in order to seek continuance of his trial. After denying his counsel's motion to withdraw, the trial court gave the Defendant the choice of continuing with his current representation or representing himself pro se. The trial court determined the Defendant's refusal to choose an option as an election to proceed pro se. Because the circuit court did not secure a valid waiver of Defendant's right to counsel, the Supreme Court held that the Defendant did not knowingly and intentionally waive the right to counsel and the Defendant’s actions did not create an implied waiver of the right to counsel. Subsequently, the Court vacated his death sentence. The judgment is reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

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