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State v. Williams

March 24, 1997

STATE OF WASHINGTON, RESPONDENT,
v.
JAMES WILLIAMS, APPELLANT.



Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 95-1-00664-3. Date filed: 10/23/95. Judge signing: Hon. Jo Anne Alumbaugh.

Petition for Review Denied September 3, 1997,

PER CURIAM. After voicing his displeasure at the prospect of being represented by yet another attorney, James Williams told the court below "I want to represent myself." Despite that request, Williams was represented by court-appointed counsel throughout his trial and sentencing proceedings. Williams now asks us to decide on appeal whether he was denied his constitutional right of self-representation. Given the relevant facts in this case and the nature of our review, we hold he was not. Nor do the other issues raised on appeal establish grounds for reversal. Accordingly, we affirm.

FACTS

On the morning of January 19, 1995, Eli Salazar was shot in the hand as he was waiting to catch a bus in downtown Seattle. Williams admitted shooting Salazar, but claimed he did so in self-defense. Williams was later charged with the crime of assault in the first degree.

On June 21, 1995, a CrR 3.5 hearing was held to determine the admissibility of certain out-of-court statements allegedly made by Williams. The court ruled that a majority of those statements would be admissible at Williams' trial.

The following day, Williams' trial counsel moved to withdraw due to an apparent conflict of interest. At which point Williams responded:

If you fire him I want to represent myself, because if you appoint another lawyer I'm not going to talk to him, I'm not going to share any information with him. So if he asks me any questions about the case I'm just going to sit there like I can't talk and he can figure out how he's going to represent me. I'm going to represent myself, I'm not going to participate because I've been here five months and a person shouldn't have to stay in five months until proven guilty. The trial Judge eventually denied the motion to withdraw. The court did not specifically address Williams' request to appear pro se.

On June 26, 1995, Williams' trial counsel sought reconsideration of the court's earlier ruling denying his motion to withdraw. After hearing argument, the trial Judge "quite reluctantly" granted the motion and allowed counsel to withdraw. The following colloquy ensued:

THE DEFENDANT: I don't want new counsel.

[TRIAL JUDGE]: I realize that you do not.

THE DEFENDANT: I'm not going to talk with him. You can send him over all day long, he's not going to be spoken to. I want to represent myself.

[TRIAL JUDGE]: The court is going to appoint someone to talk to you. If you don't want to talk to him, that's your decision. He will be over the next day.

THE DEFENDANT: When am I going to get to have a trial?

[TRIAL JUDGE]: And we will see who that person is going to be today.

[WILLIAMS' FORMER ATTORNEY]: Your Honor, as soon as the Court has information, if your Bailiff will let me know so that I can try to coordinate --

THE DEFENDANT: Can I just plead guilty?

[WILLIAMS' FORMER ATTORNEY]: So that that will help at least alleviate any potential delay on Mr. Williams.

THE DEFENDANT: I'm not going to talk to your lawyer. You can send him over all day long. I'm finished with this shit.

On July 6, 1995, a hearing was held before the presiding Judge. At the hearing new defense counsel was appointed and a new trial date of August 24 was set, ...


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