Tuesday, April 10, 2012

KY COA March 30th - Ayers- Faretta

Ayers v. Commonwealth – 2010-CA-590, Rendered March 30, 2012; To Be Published

Ayers was convicted on five counts of failure to file a tax return.  The Court of Appeals held that the trial court’s failure to conduct a Faretta inquiry rendered the conviction invalid, warranting a new trial.

Ayers was an attorney licensed to practice in Kentucky.  He was indicted on five counts of failing to file a Kentucky tax return from 2002 to 2006.  From the nearly two-year period between indictment and trial, Ayers represented himself.  Filing motions that were ruled upon by the trial court, but without a formal Faretta hearing.  A trial followed, and Ayers was convicted.

Ayers argued that it was improper for the trial court to let him proceed to trial pro se without a Faretta hearing.   Even though he was an attorney, the Court of Appeals noted that attorneys are protected under Faretta as well.  Further, even though Ayers did practice criminal law, harmless error analysis did not apply - Faretta violations result in “structural error and will merit appellate correction.”

Contributed by Robert Yang