Taylor v. Ricketts, 32402

CourtSupreme Court of Georgia
Writing for the CourtBOWLES; All the Justices concur, except HALL, J., who concurs specially, and HILL; HALL; HILL
Citation239 Ga. 501,238 S.E.2d 52
PartiesErvin TAYLOR v. James G. RICKETTS.
Docket NumberNo. 32402,32402
Decision Date07 September 1977

Page 52

238 S.E.2d 52
239 Ga. 501
No. 32402.
Supreme Court of Georgia.
Sept. 7, 1977.

Page 53

[239 Ga. 503] Ervin Taylor, pro se.

[239 Ga. 504] James C. Bonner, Jr., Athens, for appellant.

Arthur K. Bolton, Atty. Gen., Harrison Kohler, Asst. Atty. Gen., Atlanta, for appellee.

[239 Ga. 501] BOWLES, Justice.

This court found probable cause to appeal the denial of habeas corpus to Ervin Green Taylor on the issue of waiver of counsel, in light of Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 95 S.Ct. 2525, 45 L.Ed.2d 562 (1973).

The appellant was indicted by a Muscogee County Grand Jury for felony-murder and attempted armed robbery. Because he was an indigent, counsel was appointed to represent him. The case came to trial with appellant represented by his appointed counsel. After the jury was struck, the court recessed in order for the appellant to address the judge. At this time appellant asked that appointed counsel be dismissed, and he be allowed to represent himself.

The court informed the appellant that his appointed counsel was extremely capable and would afford a vigorous defense. The court also told appellant that there was no law forcing counsel upon him, but that he would only dismiss counsel upon appellant's insistence. Appellant insisted, stating that he felt the attorney "might not be in my best favor." The court assured the appellant that this was not true, and again asked appellant if he still elected to represent himself. Appellant replied in the affirmative. At this point, appointed[239 Ga. 502] counsel was excused from the case.

The Sixth Amendment as made applicable to the States by the Fourteenth Amendment, guarantees that a defendant in a state criminal trial has an independent constitutional right of self-representation and that he may proceed to defend himself without counsel when he voluntarily and intelligently elects to do so. A State may not force a lawyer upon an appellant when he insists that he wants to conduct his own defense. Faretta v. California, supra.

An attorney was appointed for appellant Taylor at the time of his arraignment in October, 1975. By the time of trial in April of 1976, appellant and his attorney had had five or six conferences, at which times they discussed the charges pending against appellant. Appellant's appointed attorney testified at the habeas corpus hearing that, in his professional opinion, appellant had a very difficult case because, at the time of his arrest, he had made a confession to the police. Negotiations were made with the district attorney for plea bargaining, but appellant refused to enter a plea of guilty. At no time did appointed counsel exert force in suggesting that appellant plead guilty, although he did try to explain to appellant that he could be found guilty of murder although appellant himself did not pull the trigger.

When Taylor made the decision to go to trial, appointed counsel explained three defenses they would use: (1) appellant's constitutional rights had been denied in that he was not afforded a speedy trial; (2) appellant's statement to the police had not been freely and voluntarily made; and (3) appellant

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lacked criminal intent. (After being dismissed as counsel, but before leaving the courtroom, the appointed counsel raised issues one and two by oral motion on appellant's behalf.) Although at the hearing on his habeas corpus application appellant complained that he did not believe his appointed attorney would subpoena alibi witnesses for him, it is undisputed that appellant never mentioned the existence of any possible alibi defense and he admitted to counsel that he was at the scene of the crime. Appellant was 20 years old and had a high school education. He had been in court on a previous occasion.

[239 Ga. 503] " A waiver is ordinarily an intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right or privilege. The determination of whether there has been an intelligent waiver of the right to counsel must depend, in each case, upon the particular facts and circumstances surrounding that case, including the background, experience, and conduct of the accused." Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458, 58 S.Ct. 1019, 82 L.Ed. 1461 (1937). Under the circumstances of this case, we find that appellant Taylor effectively waived his Sixth Amendment right of assistance of counsel and in fact invoked his right to represent himself.

Taylor was appointed a capable attorney in the early stages of his imprisonment. In a series of conferences, he was told of the difficulties he would be facing at trial and the defenses counsel intended to use. Considering his age and education, and being...

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27 cases
  • Woodard v. State
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • 17 Octubre 2019
    ...constitutions "guarantee a criminal defendant both the right to counsel and the right to self-representation."); Taylor v. Ricketts , 239 Ga. 501, 502, 238 S.E.2d 52 (1977) ("A state may not force a lawyer upon an appellant when he insists that he wants to conduct his own defense.").17 Oliv......
  • Thomas v. State, s. A14A2052
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • 27 Marzo 2015
    ...under the federal and state Constitutions. See Faretta, 422 U.S. at 819–820(III)(A), 95 S.Ct. 2525 ; Taylor v. Ricketts, 239 Ga. 501, 502, 238 S.E.2d 52 (1977) (“A state may not force a lawyer upon an appellant when he insists that he wants to conduct his own defense.”) (citation omitted); ......
  • Hamilton v. State, A98A1133.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • 1 Julio 1998
    ...666, 669(3), 482 S.E.2d 403 (1997). See also Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458, 58 S.Ct. 1019, 82 L.Ed. 1461 (1938); Taylor v. Ricketts, 239 Ga. 501, 238 S.E.2d 52 (1977); Keith v. State, 218 Ga.App. 729(1), 463 S.E.2d 51 (1995); Kirkland v. State, 202 Ga.App. 356, 357-358(1), 414 S.E.2d 502 ......
  • Taylor v. Hopper, 78-2623
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 15 Junio 1979
    ...an indigent to the assistance of counsel. The Supreme Court of Georgia affirmed the denial of habeas corpus relief, Taylor v. Ricketts, 239 Ga. 501, 238 S.E.2d 52 (1977). With the assistance of counsel, Taylor then petitioned the United States District Court, which adopted the findings of t......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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