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Liggins v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

May 13, 2015

EDWARD ANTHONY LIGGINS, APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS, APPELLEE

Editorial Note:

This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the printed official reporter.

Page 332

APPEAL FROM THE CRAIGHEAD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, WESTERN DISTRICT. NO. CR-09-1147. HONORABLE CINDY THYER, JUDGE.

Teresa Bloodman, for appellant.

Dustin McDaniel, Att'y Gen., by: Nicana C. Sherman, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

OPINION

Page 333

WAYMOND M. BROWN, Judge

A Craighead County jury found appellant Edward Anthony Liggins guilty of first-degree murder and first-degree battery. He was sentenced to forty years' imprisonment for first-degree murder; however, his sentence was enhanced by fifteen years and ten years, respectively, for employing a firearm and for committing the crime in the presence of a child.[1] The sentence plus the enhancements were to run consecutively, for an aggregate sentence of sixty-five years' imprisonment. He was sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment for first-degree battery. This sentence was to run concurrently to the sixty-five-year sentence.[2] Liggins argues on appeal that the trial court violated his Sixth Amendment right to counsel of his choice. We affirm.[3]

Appellant's jury trial took place from August 2 to August 5, 2010. On August 3, 2010, the second day of jury trial, before the conclusion of jury selection, Miranda Esters[4] stated that appellant had an attorney and that they were attempting to " get the Public Defenders fired." The court responded, " [T]here is nothing in the court file where she [Teresa Bloodman] has entered her appearance, and I have not heard from her indicating that she intends to represent him, and we are well within the trial at this point." Appellant's trial counsel, Grant Deprow,[5] also informed the court that Bloodman " might be on her way up [there]." However, the court stated, " I've received nothing from her, the trial's been going on since as early as yesterday morning and I haven't seen her. So at this point, I don't feel like it's an issue that can be addressed at least without her being here." The court subsequently told appellant, " [T]his case will not be continued whether you have a different attorney or not." The court noted that they were in the process of choosing the jury. The court proceeded with jury selection and began with appellant's trial.

The court was notified of Bloodman's motion for entry of appearance after the court had recessed for lunch. Upon being questioned by the court, appellant stated that he did not want to be represented by a public defender and that he wanted to change attorneys because he " need[ed] a paid attorney in a situation like this." Appellant could not provide the court with any specific reason for wanting Bloodman to represent him. However, he stated that his current attorneys refused to file motions requesting a change of venue and a speedy trial; that they failed to subpoena

Page 334

certain witnesses for his defense; that they would not show him the witness list; and that they would not provide him with a second set of discovery when he lost or misplaced the first set provided. Deprow responded to appellant's claims, stating that one witness was only going to be a rebuttal witness and that he was no longer needed because the testimony he was going to rebut was not going to be presented; that the other person had an extensive criminal history and would do more harm than good to appellant's defense; and that a third individual had made himself unavailable, and he also had an extensive criminal history. Appellant told the court that he did not know why someone would wait until the current week to contact Bloodman about representing him.

The court contacted Bloodman by phone and held a conference call on the record. Bloodman asked the court for permission to enter her appearance " conditioned upon the Court granting a continuance." She stated that she " could not effectively represent a client if the Court determine[d] to substitute counsel today." She informed the court that appellant's family had " taken the first steps towards retaining [her that] morning." She said that she had not had any contact with appellant or his family prior to that time. Bloodman asked the ...


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