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Oregon v. Whitlow

June 18, 1973

STATE OF OREGON, RESPONDENT,
v.
DENNIS WHITLOW, APPELLANT



Appeal from Circuit Court, Multnomah County. Pat Dooley, Judge. No. C-72-09-2958.

J. Marvin Kuhn, Deputy Public Defender, Salem, argued the cause for appellant. With him on the brief was Gary D. Babcock, Public Defender, Salem.

Thomas H. Denney, Assistant Attorney General, Salem, argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Lee Johnson, Attorney General, and John W. Osburn, Solicitor General, Salem.

Langtry, Judge. Schwab, Chief Judge, and Foley, Judge.

Langtry

Defendant appeals from conviction in a jury trial of burglary in the second degree. ORS 164.215. He contends (1) that the trial court erred in requiring him after he commenced conducting his own defense to proceed therewith; (2) that the court erroneously remarked that it costs the state $500 a day to operate the courtroom as it admonished him to stay with germane

subjects as he conducted voir dire examination of the jury; and (3) that the court should not have allowed evidence that defendant refused to give his name at the time of his arrest.

(1). Defendant had his second court-appointed counsel at the time trial commenced. He asked the court at that point to rule that he could personally make a closing statement to the jury. The court informed him that he had the right to conduct his own defense but that he would have to conduct the whole defense himself if he so chose, but could consult with counsel who would remain at counsel table with him. The court tried to dissuade defendant from conducting his own case. The defendant then chose to conduct his own defense and proceeded with a lengthy and rambling voir dire examination of the prospective jurors, much of which was far afield from germane subjects. Many of his questions were pointless and abstract, others were incomprehensible. The court, in trying to keep defendant from consuming unnecessary time, made the remark that it costs $500 a day to operate the courtroom, "* * * It is costing all these people that money * * *." No objection was made to the court's statement at that time, but at the end of trial, more than 400 pages of the transcript later, defendant moved for a mistrial on the ground that the remark prejudiced him.

Defense counsel remained with defendant throughout the trial. When defendant had finished his selection of the jury, he asked the court to allow defense counsel to proceed with the case. This the court refused to do, reminding defendant of the choice he had made after the court had warned him of the rules of procedure it had set. Defendant then conducted cross-examination

of the state's witnesses and the alibi witness which he presented for the defense. He did not take the witness stand. A reading of the lengthy record indicates that his counsel was framing for him virtually all the questions he asked. Legal arguments throughout the case were made by defendant's counsel, who also spontaneously made objections to prosecution questions. Defendant made his own closing statement. In that statement he said: "* * * But I am saying that I did not commit a burglary nor did I know of a burglary." He had already made it clear to the court that his purpose was to make such a denial without being under oath and subject to cross-examination, penalties for possible false swearing, or revelation of his former criminal record for its value to the jury in judging his credibility. Thus, he accomplished his purpose.

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have the right * * * to be heard by himself and counsel * * *." Oregon Constitution, Art I, ยง 11; State v. Butchek, 121 Or 141, 153, 253 P 367, 254 P 805 (1927); State v. Dalebout, 4 Or App 601, 480 P2d 451 (1971).

See, State v. Verna, 9 Or App 620, 498 P2d 793 (1972). The fact that the Oregon constitutional provision uses the conjunctive between "defendant" and "counsel," as do similar provisions in most state constitutions, has repeatedly been held not to mean defendant may intermittently use and then discard counsel. See People v. Hill, 70 Cal 2d 678, 76 Cal Rptr 225, 452 P2d 329 (1969), cert denied 406 U.S. 971 (1972), and People v. Mattson, 51 Cal 2d 777, 336 P2d 937 (1959). Numerous cases ...


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