United States v. Rice

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 01-22-2015
  • Case #: 13-10152; 13-10186
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Hurwitz for the Court; Circuit Judges Bea and Ikuta
  • Full Text Opinion

The Sixth Amendment is satisfied when a defendant who wishes to represent himself pro se is given a fair chance to present his defense in his own way.

Shawn Rice was indicted for money laundering in the District of Nevada. At Rice’s arraignment, he indicated to the magistrate that he would like to deny counsel and represent himself pro se. The magistrate explained that the decision as to whether he would be allowed to represent himself would be made at a future hearing, and in the interim she appointed a defense attorney to act as “standby counsel,” which Rice agreed to. Rice pled not guilty and spoke at length regarding his desire for pre-trial release. The defense counsel made a few comments but Rice did most of his own representation. Rice also filed twelve motions in furtherance of his defense that the district court stuck down, because a defense attorney did not file them. Eventually, Rice was deemed fit to represent himself. The court allowed Rice to re-file all of the motions that had been stricken and Rice was given additional time to re-file. Rice represented himself at trial and was found guilty of all counts. Rice appealed, claiming that the delay in granting his petition for self-representation was a violation of his Sixth Amendment right. The Ninth Circuit began by explaining that the Supreme Court has indicated that the right to counsel encompasses a right to represent oneself. However, the panel found no constitutional violation here because the arraignment and initial appearances proceeded exactly as if Rice were representing himself with standby counsel. Additionally, when Rice’s pro se request was accepted, the court allowed him to re-file his motions and he was given an extended amount of time to do so. This put him back to where he would have been if he had been representing himself pro se throughout the entire process. AFFIRMED.

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