State v. Music

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 06-24-2020
  • Case #: A166473
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: James, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; & Shorr, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

"Article I, section 11, enumerates a number of rights that attach '[i]n all criminal prosecutions.' Among those rights is that the accused is entitled 'to be heard by himself and counsel.' This court has long held that the right 'to be heard by' oneself includes the right to self-representation at trial." State v. Hightower, 361 Or 412, 416 (2017)

Defendant appealed convictions in several consolidated cases. At trial, the court denied Defendant’s request to represent him/herself without discussion; to which Defendant assigned error on appeal. Defendant argued that he had a constitutional right to self-represent. The State argued that the court did not need to discuss the ruling because Defendant refused to respond the court’s questions. The right to counsel extends to the right to represent oneself. State v. Hightower, 361 Or 412, 416-17 (2017). If a defendant unambiguously asserts this right, then courts must rule on the record whether the “decision is an intelligent and understanding one.” State v. Miller, 254 Or App 514, 523 (2013). The Court found that Defendant unambiguously asserted his right to self-represent when Defendant repeatedly objected to court appointed counsel. Defendant’s outbursts was not mere obstruction of the trial court but frustrated attempts to assert his constitutional right. The Court held that the trial court erred when it failed to rule on the record whether Defendant’s desire to self-represent was “intelligent and understanding.” Miller, 254 Or App at 523. Reversed and Remanded.

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