Monday, October 3, 2011

9/16 Court of Appeals - Martin - Faretta hearing & Court Costs

Martin v. Commonwealth

10-CA-322 and 10-CA-1905

9/16/11 Court of Appeals opinion - To be published.

The Court of Appeals held the trial court should have held a Faretta hearing when: the client filed pre- and post-trial pro se motions; the trial court ruled on many of those motions; and the client was also receiving benefit of appointed counsel. By ruling on the pro se motions, the court treated Martin as a pro se litigant.  Accordingly, the court should have conducted a hearing, given the warnings required pursuant to Faretta, and made a finding that his waiver was voluntary and intelligently made. The Court’s failure to do so is reversible error.

 In a 2-1 decision, this panel also distinguished Travis and held that court costs were properly imposed as a condition of probation.  This panel found that the defendant had asked to be released from custody so he could work to support his family and that he was released on probation.  Based on his stated ability to work, the imposition of court costs was not a manifest injustice.  This issue was not preserved at the trial level, so it was reviewed under the palpable error standard.  If this is an issue important to the client, raise an objection to improve the odds of winning on appeal.

Contributed by Robert Yang