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United States v. Kelley

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

May 29, 2015

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Christopher Curtis Kelley, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted April 23, 2015.

Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Jefferson City.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Jim Lynn, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri, Jefferson City, MO.

For Christopher Curtis Kelley, Defendant - Appellant: Andrew Greenlee, Andrew B. Greenlee, P.A., Sanford, FL.

Christopher Curtis Kelley, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Texarkana, TX.

Before RILEY, Chief Judge, SMITH and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 916

RILEY, Chief Judge.

On the morning Christopher Kelley's arson trial was to begin, Kelley moved for substitute counsel or, alternatively, to proceed pro se. The district court[1] denied the motion. At trial, a jury found Kelley guilty on both arson counts. Kelley directly appealed the district court's orders regarding his representation at trial. We affirmed in part and, retaining jurisdiction, remanded to the district court for clarification of the denial of Kelley's motion to proceed pro se. See United States v. Kelley, 774 F.3d 434, 442 (8th Cir. 2014) (Kelley I). On remand, the district court issued an order clarifying its decision, and, back in this court, the parties submitted supplemental briefs. After careful review, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

We repeat those facts relevant to this appeal following remand. On April 22, 2013, the first day of trial, Kelley's public defender informed the district court that Kelley did not want the public defender to represent him. The district court excluded the prosecutor from the courtroom, although at Kelley's request, some observers remained. Kelley explained to the district court that Kelley had not had a chance to view all the evidence against him and he had several communication problems with his attorney. The district court replied,

I think [the public defender] has very clearly explained that he is making decisions

Page 917

in your best interests. . . . And so I am not at this point or at any point in this trial going to grant your request for a new attorney or ...

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