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Carrick v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I, II and IV

March 9, 2016


         Counsel Amended March 11, 2016.

Page 542


         Calvin Carrick, Pro se, appellant.

         Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Christian Harris, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

         Wendell Lee Griffen

         BART F. VIRDEN, Judge. GLADWIN, C.J., and ABRAMSON, J., join.


Page 543

          BART F. VIRDEN, Judge

         Pro se appellant Calvin Carrick appeals from the Pulaski County Circuit Court's order holding him in criminal contempt for disobeying a court order that he hire an attorney; displaying disorderly, contemptuous, and insolent behavior; and disobeying and resisting the court's " jury-trial process." Carrick argues that the trial court erred in finding him in contempt. We agree and, therefore, reverse and dismiss.

         I. Background

         These are the facts leading up to the criminal-contempt finding. Carrick had appealed to the circuit court from convictions in the district court and requested a jury trial.[1] On the day set for trial, the court found that Carrick had knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to counsel. After a preliminary discussion about jury instructions, during which Carrick grew increasingly frustrated, Carrick said, " [I]f there's some sort of legal reason that you can find that you cannot instruct the jury on what the legislature has wrote in the law, then I'm going to need a lawyer because I don't understand what's going on." The following colloquy occurred:

Court: Mr. Carrick, the Court will have to reschedule this trial so you can get a lawyer.
Appellant: I'm sorry about that, but this is--
Court: No, no, no.
Appellant: This is crazy.
Court: No, sir, it's not crazy. This is the law. Let me be real clear to you. There's a reason why people go to law school. There's a reason why you go to medical school. There's a reason why you go to engineering school. Those skills affect public safety and public security and anybody can't, as Grandma Bell used to say, up and do this.
This isn't like shooting pool or shooting marbles where you can just have a thumb and a set of marbles and make it into the game.
People go to law school for three years. Then they have to pass a bar exam to show they know the law. Jury instructions are part of how trials are made before juries and just because you can find a statute on the internet doesn't mean that the whole statute goes into the trial. If some part of the statute doesn't apply, it does not go into the trial. It's the law, but it's not the law in that case and so it's not crazy.
Appellant: Is there some part that you're saying that I did like that, that did not apply?
Court: Mr. Carrick, we have done all we need to do. You have asserted your right to counsel.

Page 544

          The trial court then dismissed the jury with no objection by the State and asked Carrick whether he could retain an attorney within thirty days. Carrick answered affirmatively.

          At a report-on-attorney hearing, Carrick appeared without an attorney and explained that he could not agree to the requested fee. The following colloquy was had:

Court: Let me ask the public defender to talk to you and let me tell you whether or not you would qualify. If you don't qualify, then I will give you another chance to get a lawyer, but I need to inform you that we need to get this matter moving and so you will get a lawyer and we will proceed or you will get a court-appointed lawyer and proceed, but we will proceed, sir.
Appellant: Yes, sir, I certainly do want to proceed and I decided to continue to represent myself.
Court: We've been down that road before. You recall I had a jury trial scheduled. I had a jury come in. We were ready to begin the jury trial on the day of trial and that was when you finally realized that you needed a lawyer. I'm not going down that road again.
Appellant: No, sir. What I--
Court: Excuse me. So you will have a lawyer one way or another, Mr. Carrick. You're going to have a lawyer court-appointed or you're going to have a lawyer hired, but you're not going to represent yourself, sir.
Appellant: I'm not sure how that's going to work then because that's my intent.
Court: Well, folks that go to hell intend to go to heaven, but that doesn't keep them from going to hell, okay? So let's get something straight. I really don't care what you intend.
Appellant: That's fine.
. . . .
Court: You will not represent yourself and the reason for that is--I've made a record--you do not know the law. You do not know court procedures. You don't know how to do jury instructions. You've asked for a jury trial and I'm not going to have you messing up a jury trial just because you want to represent yourself. You have the right to believe you're smart to represent yourself, but you're just as wrong as Lucifer on Judgment Day. So that will be the end of that. Have a seat.
Appellant: So I may not speak?
Court: No, sir. Have a seat.
Appellant: Okay. All right.

         Following a discussion about Carrick's reluctance to sign an affidavit indicating that he was requesting an attorney, the public defender reported that Carrick felt that he could afford to hire an attorney. The following was said: COURT: Well, I appreciate Mr. Carrick's devotion to truth. Well, Mr. Carrick, I'm going to give you one week to find a lawyer. . . .

Court: Mr. Carrick, come back in a week with a lawyer since you say you are able to afford one, but come back in one week one way or [another].
Appellant: I will come back one way or the other, sir.
Court: Thank you, sir.
At the next report-on-attorney hearing, the following ...

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