Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I, II and IV
Amended March 11, 2016.
FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIFTH DIVISION. NO.
60CR-13-510. HONORABLE WENDELL L. GRIFFEN, JUDGE.
Carrick, Pro se, appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Christian Harris, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
VIRDEN, Judge. GLADWIN, C.J., and ABRAMSON, J., join.
F. VIRDEN, Judge
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.
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. 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 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.
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.
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.
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