Britt v. State, A21A1695

CourtUnited States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
Writing for the CourtMercier, Judge.
Citation868 S.E.2d 824,362 Ga.App. 456
Parties BRITT v. The STATE.
Docket NumberA21A1695
Decision Date01 February 2022

362 Ga.App. 456
868 S.E.2d 824

BRITT
v.
The STATE.

A21A1695

Court of Appeals of Georgia.

February 1, 2022


Frances C. Kuo, for Appellant.

James Bradley Smith, Jefferson, Gregory Lee Wagner, Alpharetta, Victoria Lynn Goff, for Appellee.

Mercier, Judge.

868 S.E.2d 825
362 Ga.App. 456

David Britt entered a negotiated guilty plea, pursuant to Alford1 , upon an indictment charging him with failure to register as a sex offender. Thereafter, he filed a pro se motion to withdraw his guilty plea, which the trial court denied. In his only claimed error, Britt argues that the trial court erred by allowing him to proceed pro se during the hearing on his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Because Britt was not informed of the dangers of self-representation during the plea withdrawal proceedings, we reverse and remand.

A "trial court's ruling as to whether the defendant's waiver of the right to counsel was valid is reviewed for abuse of discretion." Cox v. State , 317 Ga. App. 654, 654, 732 S.E.2d 321 (2012) (footnote omitted).

At a pre-trial hearing, the trial court discussed with Britt his desire to represent himself. Britt expressed his dissatisfaction with the public defender assigned to his case. The trial court informed Britt that while he had a constitutional right to counsel, he did not have a constitutional right to counsel of his choosing. After questioning

362 Ga.App. 457

Britt, the trial court allowed him to represent himself but warned him of the potential dangers. The trial court did not mention the post-conviction process during its colloquy with Britt.

At his later plea hearing, Britt reiterated his desire to represent himself. After the trial court again warned him of the dangers of representing himself at the plea hearing or at trial, Britt was allowed to proceed pro se. The trial court sentenced Britt to a term of ten years, with three to be served in confinement, and his conviction was entered.

Within 30 days of his guilty plea, and within the same term of court, Britt filed a pro se "Motion to Withdraw Void Sentence and Pleas." The trial court issued a scheduling order, stating that Britt was

entitled to the assistance of representation in this matter if he wishes to be represented ... [Britt] had previously made the [trial court] aware that he did not wish to be represented by the Public Defender's Office with regards to the trial of this case. However, if [Britt] does wish to inquire into representation for this matter, he is encouraged to do so.

Britt filed a "request for appointment of effective [assistance] of counsel," and the trial court appointed Britt counsel.

At the hearing on Britt's motion to withdraw his guilty plea, Britt expressed his desire to represent himself because his appointed counsel had filed a motion for a continuance and he did not want the hearing to be continued. The trial court asked Britt again if he wanted to represent himself, and Britt responded affirmatively but requested that his appointed counsel remain in the courtroom on a standby basis. The trial court denied Britt's request for standby counsel, and, after confirming that Britt wanted to proceed pro se, dismissed Britt's counsel.

Britt represented himself at the hearing, which took place over two days. Following the trial court's denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea, Britt filed this appeal, with the assistance of counsel, arguing in his sole enumerated error that the court erred by allowing him to represent himself during his motion to withdraw his plea. Britt argues that the trial court failed to warn him of the...

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1 practice notes
  • Huggins v. State, A21A1694
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • February 1, 2022
    ...that there is a reasonable likelihood that, but for counsel's errors, the outcome of the trial would have been different. Importantly, 362 Ga.App. 456 should a defendant fail to meet his burden on one prong of this two-prong test, we need not review the other prong.24 "Failure to pursue a m......
1 cases
  • Huggins v. State, A21A1694
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • February 1, 2022
    ...that there is a reasonable likelihood that, but for counsel's errors, the outcome of the trial would have been different. Importantly, 362 Ga.App. 456 should a defendant fail to meet his burden on one prong of this two-prong test, we need not review the other prong.24 "Failure to pursue a m......

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