State v. Sorrow, 213 N.C.App. 571, 713 S.E.2d 180 (Jul. 9, 2011)

The trial court erred by permitting the defendant to waive counsel and proceed pro se at a probation revocation hearing without first satisfying the requirements of G.S. 15A-1242. The court concluded that even though the defendant executed two Waiver of Counsel forms (AOC-CR-227), one of which was certified by the trial court, “these waivers are not presumed to have been knowing, intelligent, and voluntary because the rest of the record indicates otherwise.” Nothing in the record indicated that the defendant understood and appreciated the consequences of the decision to proceed pro se, the nature of the charges, the proceedings, or the range of possible punishments. Noting that the trial court is not required to follow a specific “checklist” of questions when conducting the waiver inquiry, the court referenced a checklist that appears in the judges’ bench book. [Author’s note: the Bench Book cited in the opinion is out of print. However, the relevant section in the current version of the Superior Court Judges’ Bench Book is available here, and it includes the relevant checklist].