December 2, 2008
A Difficult Client
An opinion issued today by the North Carolina Court of Appeals tells the tale of a particularly difficult client in a criminal case involving felony breaking and entering and rape offenses where the victim was married to the defendant. By my count, the client had discharged three lawyers (another had withdrawn due to a conflict of interest) and a standby counsel. The first appointed lawyer received a letter stating YOU ARE FIRED (emphasis in original). The second lawyer was accused of "racial tensions" and "insignificant counsel." The third withdrew because he had represented one of the state's witnesses. The fourth was discharged after the client filed a complaint against him with the Bar. The client complained that appointed standby counsel was "no help." He decided to represent himself and waived his right to counsel.
On the eve of trial, the client had second thoughts and sought to revoke his waiver. The trial court denied the request and the court here affirmed the conviction: "The trial court did not abuse its discretion...Furthermore, defendant may not claim on appeal that his self-representation was inadequate." (Mike Frisch)
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