Pro Se Chicago's Weblog

December 6, 2008

Right to Participate in Voir Dire, Side Bars, and Faretta Rules about Self-Representation – Rhode Island Judge Violates Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel and Faretta – RI Supreme Court Upholds Decision


 

Legal, Judicial And Prosecutorial Misconduct And Ethics And Civil Rights Violations Experienced By Christopher Thornton In Rhode Island Courts.

Below you will find a published dissenting decision by Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice Flanders that states the Rhode Island Superior Court violated Christopher Thornton’s Sixth Amendment rights in 3 specific ways.

“RI Supreme Court #99-376-CA, 98-263-CA (W1/96-595A)  Flanders, Justice, dissenting.  I respectfully dissent from the Court’s opinion. I believe that the Superior Court violated this pro se defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights in three specific ways.

First, both state and federal precedent required the Superior Court to conduct at least some type of a Faretta31’ inquiry with this indigent defendant after it allowed his first attorney to withdraw, appointed another attorney to represent him, and told him it would not entertain a similar motion to remove his second attorney if he could not get along with that lawyer. This error — which resulted in the defendant’s representing himself at trial against capital felony charges — cannot be rendered harmless by seizing upon this unrepresented defendant’s later admissions and using them to conclude that, notwithstanding the court’s error in failing to undertake a Faretta inquiry, he must be deemed to have knowingly and intelligently waived his right to counsel.   See related section.

Second, the trial justice violated the defendant’s constitutionally protected right to participate in juror voir dire, including sidebars during which the court conducted individual juror voir dire, by effectively precluding him from being present when this voir dire occurred.    See related section.

Third, the trial justice violated the defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights when he barred him from participating in various substantive chambers conferences that occurred throughout the trial. In my judgment, these errors constituted significant constitutional violations that require this Court to vacate the defendant’s conviction and remand this case for a new trial in the Superior Court.   See related section.”

For full dissenting opinion see: http://caught.net/cases/thornton.htm

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