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State v. Brooks

Court of Appeals of Oregon

December 18, 2019

STATE OF OREGON, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
DELONTE ANTONIO BROOKS, Defendant-Appellant. 301 Or.App. 419

          Argued and submitted August 16, 2019

          Lane County Circuit Court 17CR10554; Suzanne B. Chanti, Judge.

          Anne Fujita Munsey, Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant. Also on the briefs was Ernest G. Lannet, Chief Defender, Criminal Appellate Section, Office of Public Defense Services.

          Hannah K. Hoffman, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. Also on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General.

          Before Ortega, Presiding Judge, and Shorr, Judge, and James, Judge.

         Case Summary: Defendant appeals from a judgment of conviction for three counts of robbery in the first degree with a firearm, one count of theft in the first degree with a firearm, one count of kidnapping in the second degree with a firearm, and one count of burglary in the first degree with a firearm. Defendant raises two assignments of error on appeal. The Court of Appeals addresses only defendant's second assignment of error-that the trial court erred in denying his request for self-representation guaranteed under Article I, section 11, of the Oregon Constitution, and the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The state responds that when defendant requested to represent himself, his right to counsel had not yet attached, and, alternatively, on this record, there was not a denial of self-representation, but rather a deferral of a decision on that issue. Held: The right to counsel attached, and the preliminary hearing fell within the scope of the right to counsel. However, defendant's request for self-representation was equivocal. At that early stage proceeding, the trial court's deferral of consideration of an equivocal request for a short period, [301 Or.App. 420] thus affording defendant time to meet with counsel and be informed of the risks and benefits of representation, did not amount to a denial of defendant's rights to self-representation.

         [301 Or.App. 421] JAMES, J.

         Defendant appeals from a judgment of conviction on three counts of robbery in the first degree with a firearm, ORS 164.415, and one count each of theft in the first degree with a firearm, ORS 164.055, kidnapping in the second degree with a firearm, ORS 163.225, and burglary in the first degree with a firearm, ORS 164.225. Defendant raises two assignment of error on appeal. We reject his second assignment without discussion and write to address only the first, in which he argues that the trial court erred in denying his request for self-representation. We affirm.

         The facts underlying defendant's charges are not relevant to the issue on appeal and we do not discuss them. For our purposes, the most relevant facts are derived from the pretrial hearing that occurred on February 17, 2017. At that first court appearance defendant stated that he wanted to be represented by an attorney. However, after his attorney chose not to request a preliminary hearing, defendant asked to represent himself. The following exchange occurred:

"[DEFENDANT]: I would-I would like to just represent myself for right now, because I want to set a preliminary hearing date. I want to get through this as quick as possible, sir. I would like to set my prelim date as soon as possible.
"[COURT]: Well here's the thing, he hasn't waived the right to request your preliminary hearing. He just said he's not requesting right now, so-
"[DEFENDANT]: I just-
"[COURT]: -hang on-
"[DEFENDANT]: -I just-that's why I would like the-
"[COURT]: -[Defendant], let me just finish.
"[DEFENDANT]: Yes, sir.
"[COURT]: So there might be a good reason to do what he's suggesting. Perhaps you could take the time, just talk to him. If you don't want to have that happen then on Tuesday you can come in here, say I want a preliminary hearing deadline and we'll set one for you, so he's not giving [301 Or.App. 422] up the right forever. You're just not doing-invoking it right now. There might be reasons to do that, and I can't explain them to you because I can't give you advice, alright. You-
"[DEFENDANT]: I mean I just don't know no information on the case, and the only way-
"[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Either do we.
"[DEFENDANT]: -I can get information is-is to have a ...

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