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State v. Davis

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division

September 27, 2016

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
RONALD DAVIS, Appellant,

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Honorable Thomas J. Frawley

          ROY L. RICHTER, JUDGE

         Ronald Davis ("Appellant") appeals from his judgments for assault in the first degree, in violation of Section 565.050 (RSMo. 2000)[1], and armed criminal action, in violation of Section 571.015. Appellant wished to proceed without benefit of counsel; the trial court granted that request, but also provided standby counsel. This action brings to mind the adage, "be careful what you ask for, you might get it." Appellant represented himself at trial and the jury found him guilty of both charges. This result brings to mind another adage, "he who represents himself has a fool for a client." Appellant was sentenced as a prior and persistent offender to consecutive terms of life imprisonment. Appellant now complains that the trial court failed to make a proper determination that he knowingly and intelligently waived his right to counsel and failed to present him with the required written waiver of counsel form. We affirm.

         I. Background

         Appellant was charged by the State of Missouri ("State") with assault in the first degree and armed criminal action. On the day of his trial, Appellant asked to address the court before voir dire. Appellant stated defense counsel could not represent him because a conflict of interest existed. When asked to explain the conflict, Appellant claimed defense counsel was "an officer of the Court . . . [and her] duty is first to the Court and the public and not the client. She can't represent me, she's a corporate person, a corporate citizen. I am not." The court asked if Appellant wanted to represent himself, to which he replied, "Yes, sir, and not pro se . . . Impropa persona (sic)." Appellant then presented the court with "an averment of jurisdiction" and asked the court for a "delegation of authority." When asked what he wanted the court to do, Appellant stated, "prove who you is . . . prove who the Court is, sir." After denying Appellant's motion to discharge defense counsel for conflict of interest, the court again asked Appellant if he wanted defense counsel to represent him:

THE COURT: Do you want her to represent you?
DEFENDANT: No, I do not.
THE COURT: So you want me to discharge her as your lawyer?
DEFENDANT: I want - that's right, discharge her as my lawyer.
THE COURT: All right. Now, do you understand that if you're convicted of both of these charges you have the potential of getting two consecutive life sentences in jail?
DEFENDANT: You're going to force me to go to trial and not answer [the "delegation of authority"]?
THE COURT: I'm sorry, sir?
DEFENDANT: I said so you're going to force me to go to trial?
THE COURT: Sir, you're set for trial, you're going to go to trial.
DEFENDANT: I said so you're forcing me to go to trial?
THE COURT: I'm not forcing you to do anything, sir. It's set for trial, if you ...

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