Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

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This compendium includes significant criminal cases by the U.S. Supreme Court & N.C. appellate courts, Nov. 2008 – Present. Selected 4th Circuit cases also are included.

Jessica Smith prepared case summaries Nov. 2008-June 4, 2019; later summaries are prepared by other School staff.

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E.g., 09/22/2021
E.g., 09/22/2021

The trial court’s determination that the defendant had forfeited his right to counsel does not “carry over” to the new trial, ordered by the court for unrelated reasons. In the 3½ years leading up to trial the defendant, among other things, fired or threatened to fire three separate lawyers, called them liars, accused them of ethical violations, reported one to the Bar, cursed at one in open court, and refused to meet with his lawyers. After the defendant refused to cooperate with and attempted to fire his third attorney, the trial court found that the defendant had forfeited his right to court-appointed counsel and appointed standby counsel. On the first day of trial, the defendant informed the trial court that he finally understood the seriousness of the situation and asked the trial court to appoint standby counsel as his lawyer. Standby counsel said that he would not be ready to go forward with trial that day if appointed. The trial court denied the motion for counsel based on the prior forfeiture orders, and the trial court declined to reconsider this matter when it arose later. The defendant represented himself at his bench trial, with counsel on standby, and was convicted. After finding that the trial court erred by proceeding with a bench trial, the court considered the defendant’s forfeiture claims. Specifically, the defendant argued on appeal that his conduct did not warrant forfeiture and that the trial court’s forfeiture order should have been reconsidered in light of the defendant’s changed conduct. In light of the court’s determination that a new trial was warranted on unrelated grounds, it declined to address these issues. However, it concluded that a break in the period of forfeiture occurs when counsel is appointed to represent the defendant on appeal following an initial conviction. Here, because the defendant accepted appointment of counsel on appeal following his trial and allowed appointed counsel to represent him through the appellate process, “the trial court’s prior forfeiture determinations will not carry over to defendant’s new trial.” The court concluded: “Thus, defendant’s forfeiture ended with his first trial. If, going forward, defendant follows the same pattern of egregious behavior toward his new counsel, the trial court should conduct a fresh inquiry in order to determine whether that conduct supports a finding of forfeiture.”

State v. Boyd, 205 N.C. App. 450 (July 20, 2010)

Defendant’s forfeiture of his right to counsel did not carry over to his resentencing, held after a successful appeal. To determine the life of a forfeiture of counsel the court adopted the standard for life of a waiver of counsel (a waiver is good and sufficient until the proceedings are terminated or the defendant makes it known that he or she desires to withdraw the waiver). Applying this standard, the court found that “a break in the period of forfeiture occurred” when the defendant accepted the appointment of counsel (the Appellate Defender) for the appeal of his initial conviction. The court noted in dicta that the defendant’s statement at resentencing that he did not want to be represented and his refusal to sign a written waiver did not constitute a new forfeiture. Because the initial forfeiture did not carry through to the resentencing and because the trial judge did not procure a waiver of counsel under G.S. 15A-1242 at the resentencing, the defendant’s right to counsel was violated.

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