Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Conklin

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 30, 2016

United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee
v.
Sean Ray Conklin Defendant-Appellant

          Submitted: May 16, 2016

         Appeal from United States District Court for the District of North Dakota - Bismarck

          Before WOLLMAN, LOKEN, and BENTON, Circuit Judges.

          LOKEN, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         A jury convicted Sean Ray Conklin of distributing methamphetamine and heroin after a two-day trial at which he represented himself. See 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C). Conklin appeals his conviction, arguing the district court[1] violated his Sixth Amendment right to counsel because he did not unequivocally state his intent to proceed pro se. Reviewing the determination that Conklin waived his right to counsel de novo, we affirm. United States v. Sanchez-Garcia, 685 F.3d 745, 751 (8th Cir. 2012) (standard of review), cert. denied, 133 S.Ct. 2046 (2013).

         I. Background.

         Initially charged in a multi-defendant indictment with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine and heroin, Conklin retained attorney Michael Hoffman to defend him in that case. Because not all defendants had been located, the government obtained a second indictment charging only Conklin with two drug-distribution violations and dismissed him from the conspiracy case. On May 9, 2014, Conklin attended the initial appearance on the new charges with attorney Hoffman. The magistrate judge asked Conklin if he wished to retain Hoffman in the case. Conklin refused to answer, instead complaining about fee and communication issues with Hoffman. Toward the end of the conference, Conklin stated that he did not want court-appointed counsel and would seek retained counsel.

         With trial set to begin July 15, 2014, the district court held a pretrial conference on June 26 because no attorney had entered an appearance as Conklin's defense counsel. Appearing by telephone, Conklin refused to discuss whether he had hired an attorney, wanted appointed counsel, or planned to represent himself, stating that he preferred to respond to the court in person. The court stated that it would schedule an in-person conference and warned Conklin:

I want you to come prepared . . . to tell me specifically what you're going to do about an attorney representing you. And if you're not planning to have an attorney represent you, then . . . . I need to specifically warn you in person about the pitfalls and the dangers and the hazards of going to trial representing yourself. . . . [U]nless you have an attorney that you can tell me about at the next hearing, you need to come prepared to answer a long litany of questions that I'll have [for] you about why you think that you can represent yourself at trial.

         Conklin attended the July 2 conference without counsel. After he complained at length about unrelated matters, the district court focused on his representation at the impending trial:

-- THE COURT: [T]he issue here in [this case] is . . . whether Mr. Hoffman is going to represent you . . . or whether you are going to hire yourself another attorney, which you told the Court you were going to do, or whether you are going to represent yourself, or whether you want the Court to appoint defense counsel for you.
-- THE DEFENDANT: I do not want the Court to appoint counsel for me.
-- THE COURT: Okay. You do not want court-appointed defense counsel to represent you in this new drug case, correct?
-- THE DEFENDANT: Yep.
-- THE COURT: All right. So are you going to hire your own attorney ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.