Pro Se Chicago's Weblog

July 13, 2015

Replacing a bad public defender – possible but difficult


When public defenders refuse to listen to the defendant’s story, refuse to investigate the case, refuse to follow the law, refuse to tell the court when the court is violating law, are abrupt, rude, and harmful to defendants like ignoring their disability needs or indigency status when bail is set, and especially when they fail to subject the case to adversarial testing, then they should be replaced.  Legally when a defendant tells the judge that the PD is doing these things, the judge is obligated to question the defendant to see if there is a basis for ruling ineffective assistance of counsel and replacing the PD. The State’s Attorney may NOT participate in this stage 1 questioning. Yet they almost always do. The judges rarely listen to defendants who complain about PDs, but their failure to do so is a reversible error if it affects the outcome of the case. Attorneys will rarely help you with this issue unless the symptoms of misconduct of the PD are obvious like appearing in court drunk or not appearing in court at all. So, generally, defendants who are being abused by the system and rely on the PD due to indigency are scr**ed. This is where the ACLU and other public interest legal foundations should play a more active role, but so far they don’t.

The following is a summary of the present state of law in Illinois regarding these manners.

REPLACING A BAD PUBLIC DEFENDER – DIFFICULT BUT POSSIBLE:

NOTE: This refers to Illinois and federal case law – you must research the laws in your state.

CASE LAW CONCERNING INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL.

  • GENERAL ISSUE – STRICKLAND TWO-PRONG TEST ON APPEAL
  1. The Sixth Amendment requires only competent representation and does not guarantee a meaningful relationship between a defendant and counsel. (quoting Morris v. Slappy, 461 U.S. 1, 13-14 (1983)) Schell v. Witek, 218 F.3d 1017, ¶ 35 (9th Cir. 1991)
  2. The Illinois Supreme Court has held that, to determine whether a defendant was denied his or her right to effective assistance of counsel, on appeal, an appellate court must apply the two-prong test set forth in Strickland Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). People v. Colon, 225 Ill. 2d 125, 135 (2007) (citing People v. Albanese, 104 Ill. 2d 504(1984) (adopting Strickland)). Under Strickland, a defendant must prove both (1) his attorney’s actions constituted errors so serious as to fall below an objective standard of reasonableness; and (2) absent these errors, there was a reasonable probability that his trial would have resulted in a different outcome. People v. Ward, 371 Ill. App. 3d 382, 434 (2007) (citing Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687-94).
  3. Under the first prong of the Strickland test, the defendant must prove that his counsel’s performance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness “under prevailing professional norms.” Colon, 225 Ill. 2d at 135; People v. Evans, 209 Ill. 2d 194, 220 (2004). Under the second prong, the defendant must show that, “but for” counsel’s deficient performance, there is a reasonable probability that the result of the proceeding would have been different. Colon, 225 Ill. 2d at 135; Evans, 209 Ill. 2d at 220. “[A] reasonable probability that the result would have been different is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome–or put another way, that counsel’s deficient performance rendered the result of the trial unreliable or fundamentally unfair.” Evans, 209 Ill. 2d at 220; Colon, 225 Ill. 2d at 135. In other words, the defendant was prejudiced by his attorney’s performance.
  4. To prevail, the defendant must satisfy both prongs of the Strickland Colon, 225 Ill.2d at 135; Evans, 209 Ill. 2d at 220. “That is, if an ineffective-assistance claim can be disposed of because the defendant suffered no prejudice, we need not determine whether counsel’s performance was deficient.” People v. Graham, 206 Ill. 2d 465, 476 (2003). We do not need to consider the first prong of the Strickland test when the second prong cannot be satisfied.
  • STRICKLAND – PREJUDICE PRESUMED CRITERIA (HATTERY & CRONIC)
  1. In People v. Stanford, 2011 Ill. App. (2nd) 2090420, our supreme court has noted that the Court in Strickland recognized that “there are some circumstances so likely to prejudice the accused that such prejudice need not be shown, but instead will be presumed.” People v. Hattery, 109 Ill.2d 449, 461 (1985). Situations warranting the presumption of prejudice include cases in which (1) there is a complete denial of counsel at a critical stage of the trial, or (2)counsel entirely fails to subject the prosecution’s case to meaningful adversarial testing.” United States v. Cronic, 466 U.S. 648, 659 (1984); see Angarola, 387 Ill.App.3d at 735. Additionally, a more limited presumption of prejudice exists where counsel has a genuine conflict of interest. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 692. “Even so, the rule is not quite the per se rule of prejudice that exists for the Sixth Amendment claims mentioned above. Prejudice is presumed only if the defendant demonstrates that counsel ‘actively represented conflicting interests’ and that ‘an actual conflict of interest adversely affected his lawyer’s performance.’ “ Strickland, 466 U.S. at 692 (quoting Cuyler v. Sullivan, 446 U.S. 335, 350, 348 (1980)). Our supreme court has emphasized that a “defendant faces a high burden before he can forsake the two-part Strickland test” by meeting the Cronic standard. People v. Johnson, 128 Ill.2d 253, 270 (1989).
  2. In People v. Stanford, 2011 Ill. App. (2nd) 2090420, the defendant argued that the Cronic standard applied. Cronic, 466 U.S. at 658 (“[T]he right to the effective assistance of counsel is recognized not for its own sake, but because of the effect it has on the ability of the accused to receive a fair trial. Absent some effect of challenged conduct on the reliability of the trial process, the Sixth Amendment guarantee is generally not implicated.”). Although in the Stanford case the court said this argument was inopposite, our supreme court did note that in some cases it may be on point when the trial court summarily dismissed the defendants’ motions for new counsel without any inquiry: United States v. Nguyen, 262 F.3d 998, 1003–04 (9th Cir.2001) (where the defendant’s counsel of choice appeared and requested leave to be substituted in for the PD and requested a continuance and the trial court made no inquiry into the defendant’s dissatisfaction with appointed counsel, the trial court abused its discretion in denying the substitution motion); . . . Brown v. Craven, 424 F.2d 1166, 1170 (9th Cir.1970) (holding that the defendant’s being embroiled in an irreconcilable conflict with his attorney warranted reversal where the defendant was dissatisfied and would not cooperate with the attorney and the trial court summarily dismissed the defendant’s four motions for new counsel WITHOUT ANY INQUIRY).
  • STRICKLAND ERROR REQUIRES ESTABLISH INEFFECTIVENESS COUNSEL
  1. In People v. Stanford, 2011 Ill. App. (2nd) 2090420, our supreme court stated that even if the counsel’s comments were enough to require the trial court to conduct an inquire into the effectiveness of counsel, “the error is not reversible unless defendant establishes that counsel was ineffective. See People v. Ogurek, 356 Ill.App.3d 429, 434 (2005)”
  2. It is instructive that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held: “When forced to choose between incompetent counsel and pro se representation . . . . we concluded that no showing of prejudice was required because Crandall was improperly left with no counsel at all” (quoting Crandell v. Bunnell, 144 F.3d 1213, 1214 (9th Cir. 1998)) and quoting Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 692 (1984) (“Actual or constructive denial of the assistance of counsel altogether is legally presumed to result in prejudice.”)). Schell v. Witek, 218 F.3d 1017, ¶ 34 (9th Cir. 1991)
  3. Thus, the ultimate constitutional question the federal courts must answer is not whether the state trial court “abused its discretion” in not deciding defendant’s motion, but whether this error actually violated defendant’s constitutional rights in that the conflict between defendant and his attorney had become so great that it resulted in a total lack of communication or other significant impediment that resulted in turn in an attorney-client relationship that fell short of that required by the Sixth Amendment. Schell v. Witek, 218 F.3d 1017, ¶ 36 (9th Cir. 1991)
  • EFFECTIVENESS OF PD MUST BE ESTABLISHED BEFORE COLLATERAL ISSUES CONSIDERED (FIRST IMPRESSION ISSUE IN ILLINOIS)
  1. It is instructive, as this is an issue of first impression in Illinois that in People v. Stankewitz, 51 Cal.3d 72, 270 Cal. Rptr. 817, 793 P.2d 23 (1990), the California Supreme Court held that a motion to replace incompetent counsel must be heard before a collateral hearing on issue of competency [or fitness] because “the Sixth Amendment right to effective representation virtually compels a hearing and an order granting a motion for substitution of counsel when ‘there is a sufficient showing that the [51 Cal. 3d 88] defendant’s right to the assistance of counsel would be substantially impaired if [the defendant’s] request was denied.’ (People v. Carr (1972) 8 Cal. 3d 287, 299 [104 Cal. Rptr. 705, 502 P.2d 513]; accord People v. Burton (1989) 48 Cal. 3d 843, 855 [258 Cal. Rptr. 184, 771 P.2d 1270];People v. Moore (1988) 47 Cal. 3d 63, 76 [ 252 Cal. Rptr. 494, 762 P.2d 1218]; People v. Smith (1985) 38 Cal. 3d 945, 956 [216 Cal. Rptr. 98, 702 P.2d 180]; People v. Walker (1976) 18 Cal. 3d 232, 238 [133 Cal. Rptr. 520, 555 P.2d 306].)”
  2. The California Supreme Court clarified this concept further in its Marsden decision [now a rule in Cal.] which held that a trial judge abuses his discretion when he boldly states that the court has observed that the PD was performing admirably, but fails to give the defendant an opportunity to explain his/her concerns about ineffective assistance of counsel. This is on point with Illinois Supreme Court rule 63 which requires the court to hear the defendant:

Thus, a judge who denies a motion for substitution of attorneys solely on the basis of his courtroom observations, despite a defendant’s offer to relate specific instances of misconduct, abuses the exercise of his discretion to determine the competency of the attorney. A judicial decision made without giving a party an opportunity to present argument or evidence in support of his contention “is lacking in all the attributes of a judicial determination.” …. It is in the highest tradition of [2 Cal.3d 126] American jurisprudence for the trial judge to assist a person who represents himself as to the presentation of evidence, the rules of substantive law, and legal procedure, and judges who undertake to assist, in order to assure that there is no miscarriage of justice due to litigants’ shortcomings in representing themselves, are to be highly commended.”  (Spector v. Superior Court (1961) 55 Cal.2d 839, 843 [13 Cal.Rptr. 189, 361 P.2d 909].) People v. Marsden , 2 Cal.3d 118 (1970)

  • PD INEFFECTIVE WHEN FAIL TO ALERT COURT OF COURT’S ERRORS
  1. There are a number of cases where it is instructive that the federal courts have found error when the PD failed to bring to the attention of the court statutory, legal, or constitutional errors made by the court:
    1. Finch v. Vaughn, 67 F.3d 909 (11th Cir. 1995) (Counsel failed to correct state trial judge’s statutory mis-statements that state sentence could run concurrent with potential federal sentence);
    2. United States v. Stearns, 68 F.3d 328 (9th Cir. 1995) (A counsel failed to file notice of appeal); Fern v. Gramley, 99 F.3d 255 (7th Cir. 1996) (Prejudice could be presumed from an attorney’s failure to file an appeal upon the defendant’s request); Montemoino v. United States, 68 F.3d 416 (11th Cir. 1995) (Failure to file notice of appeal after request by defendant; Williamson v. Ward, 110 F.3d 1508 (10th Cir. 1997) (Failure to investigate the defendant’s mental illness was ineffective assistance of counsel); United States v. Kauffman, 109 F.3d 186 (3rd Cir. 1997) (Failure to investigate insanity defense was ineffective assistance of counsel;
    3. Coss v. Lackawanna County District Attorney, 204 F.3d 453 (3rd Cir. 2000) (Defendant was prejudiced by attorney’s failure to subpoena witnesses;
    4. Carter v. Bell, 218 F.3d 581 (6th Cir. 2000) (Failure to investigate mitigating evidence was ineffective assistance); Hinton v. Alabama, 2014 U.S. 136440, 571 U. S. ____ (2014) (Defendant prejudiced by ineffective assistance of PD, when the PD refused to hire an expert witness due to his ignorance of the law fundamental to the case);
  • MUST HOLD EVIDENTIARY HEARING ON DEFENDANT’S POST-TRIAL MOTION AS TO INEFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE COUNSEL BEFORE HEARING POST-TRIAL MOTIONS [HERE MOTION FOR RESTORATION OF FITNESS AFTER TRIAL FINDING UNFIT]
  1. The Illinois Supreme Court in People v. Krankel, 102 ILL.2d 181, 183 (1984) held that the “[T]rial Court erred in failing to appoint counsel other than defendant’s originally appointed counsel  to argue his pro se motion alleging ineffective assistance of counsel.” See also People v. Moore, 2003 Ill. 87958, 207 Ill.2d 68, 77-78 (2003) (First stage is to examine defendant as to basis of claim of ineffective counsel and if lacks merit then not required to appoint counsel to argue it; defendant is not required to renew claim of ineffective counsel for purposes of appeal).
  2. In People v. Jolly, 2015 Ill. 117142 at ¶ 38, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the First Stage examination of defendant concerning ineffective counsel is held WITHOUT the adversarial participation of the State’s Attorney because there is no substitute counsel arguing the defendant’s position. The Court also held that when an adversarial proceeding is held that the remedy is to hold a new Krankel hearing before a different judge. At ¶ 46
  3. The Illinois Supreme Court, in People v. Jocko, 2010 Ill. 108465, at p.4-6, 239 Ill. 2d (2010) &, held that although a two-prong Strickland hearing cannot be held pretrial as it cannot be determined if the errors affected the outcome of the trial (i.e. determine prejudice), it is required to hold a pre-trial evidentiary hearing concerning ineffective assistance of counsel only when prejudice is not relevant as when bail issues are concerned (Jocko at p 5), when there are conflicts of interest (Jocko at p. 4, 239 Ill.2d at 92 quoting Holloway v. Arkansas, 435 U.S. 475 (1978)), or when there is complete deprivation of counsel (Jocko at p. 4, 239 Ill.2d at 92 quoting Cronic 466 U.S. at 659 )

June 17, 2014

Offers of Proof – Preserving barred evidence & testimony for appeal


OFFERS OF PROOF

These are used to preserve evidence or testimony for the record when the court bars its introduction during the trial or during an evidentiary hearing. During a trial, if an offer of proof is formally made, the jury will be excluded and the witness is put on the stand so that the testimony will be on the transcript or the attorney/pro se counsel may put the evidence on the record or state what they expect a witness would have said in detail, just to get it on the record for purposes of appeal.  Anything not on the record cannot be considered for appeal.  If the judge won’t let you do this, you can file an offer of proof with an attached affidavit as to what the witness would have said or attached evidentiary document. This memorandum explains offers of proof a little more clearly. Everything I write uses Illinois and federal case law. 

MEMORADUM OF LAW – OFFERS OF PROOF

NOW COMES, Linda Shelton who respectfully presents to the court this memorandum of law.

  1. The refusal to allow an offer of proof in a trial denies due process and is reason for overturning the verdict. Every defendant has a Sixth Amendment right to present a defense. People v. Manion, 67 Ill.2d 564, 10 Ill.Dec. 547, 367  N.E.2d 1313 (1977) It is a fundamental error to deny the right to present a defense that requires the verdict be overturned. (Ibid)  Refusing to allow a person to place an offer of proof on the record, de facto denies defendant the right to present a defense.
  2. “When a party claims she has not been given the opportunity to prove her case because the trial court improperly barred certain evidence, she “must provide [the] reviewing court with an adequate offer of proof as to what the excluded evidence would have been.” In re Estate of Romanowski, 329 Ill. App. 3d 769, 773, 771 N.E.2d 966, 970 (2002). An offer of proof serves two primary functions: (1) it discloses to the trial court and opposing counsel the nature of the offered evidence, thus enabling the court to take appropriate action, and (2) it provides the reviewing court with an adequate record to determine whether the trial court’s action was erroneous. People v. Thompkins, 181 Ill. 2d 1, 10, 690 N.E.2d 984, 989 (1998).
  3. The traditional way of making an offer of proof is the “formal” offer, in which counsel offers the proposed evidence or testimony by placing a witness on the stand, outside the jury’s presence, and asking him questions to elicit with particularity what the witness would testify to if permitted to do so. People v. Wallace, 331 Ill. App. 3d 822, 831, 772 N.E.2d 785, 794 (2002); M. Graham, Cleary & Graham’s Handbook of Illinois Evidence §103.7, at 22 (8th ed. 2004).
  4. In lieu of a formal offer of proof, counsel may ask the trial court for permission to make representations regarding the proffered testimony. If counsel so requests, the court may–within its discretion–allow counsel to make such an informal offer of proof.
  5. A trial court may deem an informal offer of proof sufficient if counsel informs the court, with particularity, (1) what the offered evidence is or what the expected testimony will be, (2) by whom it will be presented, and (3) its purpose. Kim v. Mercedes-Benz, U.S.A., Inc., 353 Ill. App. 3d 444, 451, 818 N.E.2d 713, 719 (2004). However, an informal offer is inadequate if counsel (1) “merely summarizes the witness’ testimony in a conclusory manner” (Snelson v. Kamm, 204 Ill. 2d 1, 23, 787 N.E.2d 796, 808 (2003)) or (2) offers unsupported speculation as to what the witness would say (People v. Andrews, 146 Ill. 2d 413, 421, 588 N.E.2d 1126, 1132 (1992)). In deciding whether to permit an informal offer of proof, the court should ask itself the following questions: (1) Are counsel’s representations accurate and complete? and (2) Would a better record be made by requiring counsel to make a formal offer of proof, even though doing so might be inconvenient and require more time?
  6. In addition, before deciding whether to accept counsel’s representations in lieu of a formal offer, the trial court should ask opposing counsel if he objects to proceeding in that fashion, even though counsel’s response in no way limits the court in exercising its discretion on this matter. If opposing counsel concedes the sufficiency of the offer or has no objection to proceeding by counsel’s representations, then opposing counsel’s client may not later challenge the court’s decision to proceed by counsel’s representations, rather than a formal offer. See In re Detention of Swope, 213 Ill. 2d 210, 217, 821 N.E.2d 283, 287 (2004) (“Simply stated, a party cannot complain of error which that party induced the court to make or to which that party consented”); In re Marriage of Sobol, 342 Ill. App. 3d 623, 630, 796 N.E.2d 183, 188 (2003) (a party forfeits the right to complain of an alleged error when to do so is inconsistent with the position the party took in the trial court).
  7. We emphasize that a trial court is never required to settle for less than a formal offer of proof, whatever the positions of the parties at trial may be. Whether to do so is left entirely to the court’s discretion. Thus, if the trial court is not satisfied that counsel’s representations alone are sufficient, the court may require counsel to place his witnesses on the stand and make a formal offer of proof.”  Miller v. Miller, 2004 Ill. App. 4th Dist.

 

QUOTED FROM ILLINOIS INSTITUTE FOR CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION  9 — 35

EVIDENTIARY MOTIONS AT TRIAL §9.48

 

 

  1. “Offers of proof are technically not evidentiary motions but rather serve as a sort of narrative insurance policy for appeal. Offers of proof are designed to preserve the record and guarantee that testimony that is not allowed is at least previewed for the appellate court. The purpose of offers of proof is discussed in Lagestee v. Days Inn Management Co., 303 Ill.App.3d 935, 709 N.E.2d 270, 237 Ill.Dec. 284 (1st Dist. 1999). Lagestee followed previous holdings that offers of proof are made to disclose to opposing counsel and the trial court the substance of excluded evidence and to enable the reviewing court to determine whether the trial court committed error thereon. It should be noted that unlike most of the motions made at trial, a motion to make an offer of proof is not subject to the discretion of the court. It has been held in People v. Richmond, 201 Ill.App.3d 130, 559 N.E.2d 302, 147 Ill.Dec. 302 (4th Dist. 1990), that trial courts are required to permit counsel to make offers of proof. Refusal to permit an offer may constitute error. However, refusal of an offer is not error if the suggested testimony is not relevant.

 

  1. Because offers of proof are essential to make and preserve a viable record, the offers should be as accurate as possible. In Snelson v. Kamm, 319 Ill.App.3d 116, 745 N.E.2d 128, 253 Ill.Dec. 354 (4th Dist. 2001), aff’d in part, rev’d in part, 204 Ill.2d 1 (2003), an offer was held adequate if it informed the court of the particular answer that would have been given. Note that Snelson also holds that a summary or synopsis will not suffice. The offer must be as accurate as possible.

 

  1. To insure that the offer is as accurate as possible, the author would urge that counsel write out, or at least loosely outline, the offer in advance so that it can be read carefully into the record. Obviously, the offer cannot always be written out; but in most instances, the opponent’s objection and the court’s possible denial can be anticipated. A written statement or an outline helps to ensure that all necessary evidentiary elements are included and clearly and artfully set forth. If the need for an offer has not been anticipated, counsel may ask the court’s indulgence for a short break to gather his or her thoughts and compose or outline the offer. If the evidence has been excluded during the testimony of a witness, the questions and proposed answers should be set so as to show the reviewing court what has been excluded. The traditional or classic method of making the offer involves posing the question and eliciting the answers from the witness. The alternative to the questions-and-answers format is for counsel to read the offer into the record. Presenting an offer of proof by orally reciting the substance of the expected testimony was specifically approved in Wright v. Stokes, 167 Ill.App.3d 887, 522 N.E.2d 308 (5th Dist. 1988). Although it runs counter to the conventional method of putting the witness on the stand, the narrative by counsel is the most effective and safest method. The narrative avoids an inarticulate or nervous witness who is very likely to be shocked and concerned by the exclusion of his or her testimony, insures that the testimony is on point, and should provide the optimum voice in setting forth the reasons why the evidence has been improperly excluded. An offer read into the record by counsel is generally more orderly and better understood.

 

  1. In making the offer, specificity is the goal. Conclusory or summary statements as to what the testimony or evidence would have shown will not preserve the record. Snelson, supra. Any offer of proof should be made out of the presence of the jury, and it is suggested that at the close of the offer counsel renew the request that the testimony be allowed into evidence. Restatement of the request gives continuity to the record, ties up loose ends, and ensures that the offer and the ruling of the court are tied together and understood by the reviewing court.

 

  1. Various texts and cases reflect a further relaxation in the method of making an offer and go as far as to suggest that it is not needed at all when the court clearly understands the objection and the nature of the evidence being offered. See People v. Foster, 81 Ill.App.3d 915, 401 N.E.2d 1221, 37 Ill.Dec. 128 (1st Dist. 1980). Notwithstanding Foster, it is strongly suggested that the offer of proof be made outside the presence of the jury in a formal manner whenever testimony has been circumscribed in whole or in part.

 

  1. From a purely practical standpoint, there is generally little likelihood that the offer of proof will have an immediate impact on the trial court. The fact that the offer is being made is indicative of the trial court’s position. The offer is primarily directed toward compiling and preserving an accurate record for appeal. Since the offer entails the refusal of testimony during the case in chief, it properly should be viewed as a very serious motion deserving careful attention.

 

  1. Thus, the offer of proof satisfies two critical needs in preserving the record on appeal: it demonstrates (1) that an error has been committed in excluding evidence and (2) that that error was harmful to the presentation of counsel’s case in chief. The author believes that the only way the above defects can be lucidly conveyed to an appellate court is through a disciplined, formal recitation on the record, as in the following sample: Your Honor, at this time I would like to make an offer of proof in connection with the testimony of [witness]. [Witness], if allowed to testify under oath in these proceedings, would testify as follows: [foundation establishing background and competency, and then a specific narrative of the substantive testimony that would have been adduced.]

 

  1. Again, the offer of proof should be as specific as possible, at all times avoiding summaries or vague conclusions.” [emphasis added]

 

Dated: April 29, 2014

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Linda L. Shelton

Pro Se Defendant

 

October 26, 2008

Right to Counsel and Self-Representation (“Faretta Rights”)


FARETTA RIGHTS OR RIGHT TO SELF-REPRESENTATION

There is a long history in the United States of self-representation. In fact most defendants represented themselves in colonial days. See Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 95 S. Ct. 2525, 451, L.Ed.2d 562 (1975) for a detailed history.

“The Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments of our Constitution guarantee that a person brought to trial in any state or federal court must be afforded the right to the assistance of counsel before he can be validly convicted and punished by imprisonment.” Faretta at 807

Right to self-representation under the Sixth Amendment is part of the due process required under the Fourteenth Amendment. Faretta at 819-820

Forcing a defendant to accept an unwanted attorney to defend him is a denial of due process, because the “defense presented is not the defense guaranteed him by the Constitution, for in a very real sense, it is not his defense.” Faretta at 821

“Personal liberties are not rooted in the law of averages. The right to defend is personal. The defendant, and not his lawyer or the State, will bear the personal consequences of a conviction. It is the defendant, therefore, who must be free personally to decide whether in his particular case counsel is to his advantage. And although he may conduct his own defense ultimately to his own detriment, his choice must be honored out of ‘That respect for the individual which is the lifeblood of the law.” Illinois v. Allen, 397 U.S. 337, 350-351 (BRENNAN, J., concurring)”. Faretta at 834

“When an accused manages his own defense, he relinquishes, as a purely factual matter, many of the traditional benefits associated with the right to counsel. For this reason, in order to represent himself, the accused must ‘knowingly and intelligently’ forgo those relinquished benefits. Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S., at 464-465. Cf. Von Moltke v.Gillies, 332 U.S. 708, 723-724 (plurality opinion of Black, J.). Although a defendant need not himself have the skill and experience of a lawyer in order competently and intelligently to choose self-representation, he should be made aware of the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation, so that the record will establish that ‘he knows what he is doing and his choice is made with eyes open.’ Adams v. United States ex rel McCann, 317 U.S., at 279.” Faretta at 835

In general, the right to self-representation was not knowing and intelligent unless the judge questions the defendant and he responds affirmatively that he understands:

(1) the nature of the charge;
(2) the minimum and maximum sentence prescribed by law, including, when applicable, the penalty to which the defendant may be subjected because of prior convictions or consecutive sentences; and
(3) that he has a right to counsel and, if he is indigent, to have counsel appointed for him by the court.
(4) that a counsel would be able to interview witnesses, easily follow courtroom procedures, understand all options as to defenses, negotiate more easily with the prosecutor, research the law on the case, deliver subpoenas, search for witnesses, and the like.
(5) that he has a right to present evidence in mitigation at sentencing if convicted.
Not all of above are required by all states – you should research the law in your state under criminal procedure and waiver of counsel, as well as read the above Supreme Court cases.

The U.S. Supreme Court position on this matter is as follows: “This protecting duty [to protect the Sixth Amendment right to counsel] imposes the serious and weighty responsibility upon the trial judge of determining whether there is an intelligent and competent waiver by the accused.’6 To discharge this duty properly in light of the strong presumption against waiver of the constitutional right to counsel,7 a judge must investigate as long and as thoroughly as the circumstances of the case before him demand. The fact that an accused may tell him that he is informed of his right to counsel and desires to waive this right does not automatically end the judge’s responsibility. To be valid such waiver must be made with an apprehension of the nature of the charges, the statutory offenses included within them, the range of allowable punishments thereunder, possible defenses to the charges and circumstances in mitigation thereof, and all other facts essential to a broad understanding of the whole matter. A judge can make certain that an accused’s professed waiver of counsel is understandingly and wisely made only from a penetrating and comprehensive examination of all the circumstances under which such a plea is tendered.” Von Molte v. Gillies, 317 U.S. 279 at 723-724.

NO RIGHT TO SELF-REPRESENTATION ON APPEAL

“[I]n Price v. Johnston, 334 U.S. 266 the Court, in holding that a convicted person had no absolute right to argue his own appeal, said this holding was in ‘sharp contrast’ to his recognized privilege of conducting his own defense at the trial.’ Id., at 285” Faretta at 816

LIMITS OF RIGHT TO DEFEND SELF

A defendant has a qualified right to represent himself, that can only be denied if a defendant is unable to participate in the proceedings through mental incapacity, serious and obstructionist conduct, or cannot knowingly and voluntarily elect to represent himself. Faretta (Ibid)

“Moreover, the trial judge may terminate self-representation by a defendant who deliberately engages in serious and obstructionist misconduct. See Illinois v. Allen, 397 U.S. 337 . Of course, a State may – even over objection by the accused – appoint a ‘standby counsel’ to aid the accused if and when the accused requests help, and to be available to represent the accused in the event that termination of the defendant’s self-representation is necessary. See United States v. Dougherty, 154 U.S. App. D.C. 76, 87-89, 473 F.2d 1113, 1124-1126.” Faretta at FN 46 page 834-835

“The right of self-representation is not a license to abuse the dignity of the courtroom. Neither is it a license not to comply with relevant rules of procedural and substantive law. Thus, whatever else may or may not be open to him on appeal, a defendant who elects to represent himself cannot thereafter complain that the quality of his own defense amounted to a denial of ‘effective assistance of counsel.’” Faretta at FN 46 page 835

The problem in C[r]ook County is that the judges deny Faretta rights for bogus reasons falsely stating that the defendant is engaging in serious and obstructionist misconduct when he questions the judge, presents case law to the judge (one-ups the judge), writes a large number of motions, writes motions that are long and scholarly (“wastes the judge’s time with rambling motions”), etc. The system is broken and corrupt. The judges are ignorant, arrogant, incompetent, and biased against pro se litigants.

In order to represent yourself you must understand you probably will be found guilty because of this bias. You need however, to preserve the issues for appeal and file in writing your request to represent self and a motion to reconsider this when self-representation is denied to preserve the issues on the record. In your motion to reconsider you should consider writing that the judge’s reasons for denying Faretta rights are bogus just to preserve the issue and arguments for appeal.

Good luck to anyone who fights like hell for their rights! I do and will continue to do so.

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