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No new trial for defendant who discovered pitfalls of proceeding pro se

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A defendant’s request for a do-over after representing himself at trial and being found guilty was denied by the Indiana Court of Appeals with the admonishment “proceeding pro se is riddled with pitfalls.”

Adrian Jackson appealed his conviction on the grounds the trial court violated his Sixth Amendment right to counsel because his decision to waive his right to counsel was not made knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently.

In Adrian Jackson v. State of Indiana, 49A01211-CR-553, the appeals court declined to disturb Jackson’s convictions, finding the trial court properly inquired into his request to go ahead pro se and provided him with sufficient advisements. The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.

“In this case, a criminal defendant asserted his constitutional right to self-representation but unfortunately discovered that proceeding pro se is riddled with pitfalls,” Judge John Baker wrote.

Following a jury trial, Jackson was found guilty of Counts I and II, Class B felony criminal confinement; Counts III, IV, and V, Class B felony robbery, and Counts VI and VII, Class C felony battery. He was sentenced to an aggregate of 30 years.

Jackson claimed he only waived his right to counsel because he did not want to be represented by his appointed counsel and that the trial court failed to appoint him alternative counsel.

The COA conceded trial courts have no specific “talking points” when advising a defendant about the dangers and disadvantages of proceeding without counsel. However, in Poynter v. State, 749 N.E.2d 1122, 1126 (Ind. 2001), the Indiana Supreme Court has adopted four factors for a trial court to consider when determining whether a knowing, voluntary, and intelligent waiver has occurred.

The Court of Appeals examined whether the lower court provided Jackson with sufficient information about the pitfalls of self-representation; if the defendant had the background and experience necessary to make an informed decision; and if the context in which Jackson made his decision unduly influenced his actions.

Finding the trial court did meet the four Poynter factors, the COA concluded Jackson was not denied his Sixth Amendment right to counsel and the trial court properly determined his waiver was knowing, voluntary and intelligent.  
 

 

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  1. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

  2. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  3. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  4. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  5. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

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