FROM THE CHICOT COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 09CR-14-62]
HONORABLE R. BYNUM GIBSON, JUDGE
Law Office, by: Gary W. Potts, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Rebecca Kane, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
WAYMOND M. BROWN, Judge
Donnell Robinson was found guilty of first-degree murder by a
Chicot County jury. He was sentenced to forty years'
imprisonment. He argues on appeal that the trial court erred
and abused its discretion in: (1) its failure to make
specific directed-verdict motions on appellant's behalf,
thus not preserving the issues for appeal; (2) denying
appellant's motions for directed verdict based on
insufficiency of the evidence; and (3) its finding that
appellant had made an effective waiver of his right to
counsel and could proceed pro se. We affirm.
was charged in the July 17, 2014 murder of April Taylor.
Taylor was found dead on the floor in her home due to blunt
force injuries to her head. Appellant and Taylor were in a
relationship and had been living together until July 16,
2014, when Taylor kicked appellant out of the house. While
detectives were on the scene conducting interviews with
Taylor's neighbors, they developed appellant as a person
of interest. Appellant subsequently appeared and was taken in
for questioning. An arrest warrant was issued for him on July
18, 2014, and he was charged by information on August 5,
2014, as a habitual offender with Taylor's death.
Appellant had his first appearance before Judge Don E. Glover
on July 21, 2014. At that time, he was advised of the charges
against him and was told that he would be appointed an
attorney to represent him. Appellant's plea and
arraignment took place on September 8, 2014, before Judge Sam
Pope. At that time, appellant informed the court that he had
hired his own lawyer, Greg Robinson, to represent him. After
several continuances, appellant's omnibus hearing took
place on March 30, 2015. At that time, appellant informed
that court that he had fired his attorney because the
attorney had not talked to appellant about the case and
because the attorney was "no good" and was an
"ineffective assistance of counsel." Appellant
advised the court that he wished to represent himself and
that he had done so in a trial in 2009. Upon questioning by the court, appellant
You asked me a while ago why did I want to represent myself.
That is the only way I can get my paperwork, [be]cause with
an appointed attorney, he is not going to get me the
paperwork that I asked for and that I am due.
If I ask [the attorney] to send me this, send me that, this
is what you are supposed to send me because this is my
guaranteed rights of the United States Constitution and
Arkansas Constitution, just like I will say here now, the
oath of office, you all solemnly swear to affirm and support
the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of
the State of Arkansas. You all are just rebelling against the
United States Constitution because you all are not following
the rules, not even Arkansas rules of criminal procedure. All
I am asking for is justice right here, to follow the rules.
court responded by telling appellant that it sounded like
appellant was "just spouting off a bunch of
generalities" and that he did not "know anything
about the particulars." The court found that appellant
was not capable of knowingly and intelligently representing
himself. The court discharged Robinson and appointed Steven
Porch to represent appellant.
May 4, 2015 hearing, Porch informed the court that appellant
"has stated unequivocally and emphatically that he wants
to exercise his. . . right to represent himself."
According to Porch, appellant refused to talk to Porch or
give him any information necessary for Porch to effectively
represent appellant. The following colloquy took place:
Appellant: I decided that ever since my attorney messed me
around. I decided that because I want my United States
Constitution of America rights that is guaranteed to me. That
is what I want. And I am not getting it from you judge.
While you are talking to me, I am going to let my attorney
read this here. If he can sign this contract that he is going
to take and fight for my United States Constitution of
America rights, the amendment fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth,
ninth and 14th, I might would use him.
The only thing the contract says that he is going to defend
my United States Constitution of America rights. You can read
it yourself, judge. If he ain't going to sign it, that is
the reason I am not going to use him because I know he is not
The Court: There are some dangers associated with
representing yourself. When you represent yourself, you are
really trying, wearing two hats. One of the hats you are
wearing is that you are a defendant in a case.
There are all allegations against you that you have committed
a crime and the jury has to decide whether or not the State
has met its burden of proof to prove those allegations beyond
a reasonable doubt.
The other hat you are wearing is as a defense lawyer. And
sometimes it is hard to do both in my experience and
observation. Not being thoroughly trained in the law, it
would be really easy for you to waive some rights that you
have in representing yourself and making an improper record
here in this courtroom.
I am trying to talk to you to determine whether or not I
ought to let you represent yourself. It is my obligation to
warn you of the dangers of doing that and that is what I am
doing. Do you have any questions about what I have said?
Appellant: No sir. All I know is that you are not going by
the United States Constitution statutes or the rules of
Arkansas Constitution. And you all did sign an oath which is
Arkansas Constitution 19, section 20, saying that you will
promise to uphold and support the United States Constitution
and Arkansas Constitution. And you are not supporting them,
judge. That is perjury.
The Court: I don't need any lectures from you. I know the
oath I took. I was there when I took it. You were not. But
you are stupid. You are a fool.
Appellant: I, Donnell Robinson, in front of this court, all
of the spectators, am getting down on my knees in front of
everyone here begging you, as if you are a God to grant me my
guaranteed rights of due process of law by the Arkansas
Constitution, section 8, but not limited to, to grant me
equal protection of law by the 14th amendment of
United States Constitution of America, but not limited to,
also to grant me my rights as a United States citizen and
grant me my rights by Arkansas rules of criminal procedure.
And if I cannot receive these rights, I will have my family
to post on the Internet to the social media, putting all of
your actions on with your name first explaining your
violation, bias and prejudice toward me to show proof that
you judge, are not honored of trust and not qualified to sit
on a bench as a judge, a judge that jumps on a person at a
public place breaking and violating the laws that he is
supposed to protect.
The Court: You are a fool. I will say it the last time. You
do not know what you are doing.
Appellant: Well, the judge called me a fool. You heard it
right here. I am a fool. But I will have your job. I'm
going to sue you, judge. You called me a fool. You know the
Bible says do not call nobody no fool and you just called me
a fool three or four times.
The Court: You are. You keep acting the way you do, this
thing is going to be checked around from judge to judge and
you are going to be in the penitentiary forever. I am worried
about you, because you- -you are so- -you do not know what
you are doing. That's right, you are so foolish.
Appellant: I am so foolish, right? Remember? I am a fool.
That is what you just said, judge.
The Court: I do not know that anybody is capable of handling
Mr. Robinson's case. He has acted in such a way that I
cannot do it fairly. I am recusing. I am not going to mess
with him anymore. Judge Glover has already recused, I think.
That concludes my business for today.
appeared before Judge Glover on July 6, 2015, for a hearing.
When asked if he had a lawyer, the following took place:
Appellant: No sir, I am representing myself.
The Court: Okay. Do you understand you have the right to be
represented by counsel?
Appellant: Yes, sir.
The Court: And you have the right to represent yourself as
well. Have you ever had a lawyer to represent you?
Appellant: I had one but I fired him, because he was not
doing his job. I would not have a problem with a lawyer if he
was fighting for my United States Constitution of America
rights and my Arkansas Constitution of America rights of due
process of law; both of them, and of the ninth amendment too.
I am invoking, which it means calling upon my constitutional
rights, right now. Because you did sign the Arkansas
Constitution, article 19, section 20, oath of office, of
public offices, when you got your job. You did say, I do
solemnly swear to affirm that I will support the Constitution
of the United States and the Constitution of the state of
Arkansas. And without doing that, this case is that that
would be perjury, because if you do not support the
Constitution of the United States and Arkansas Constitution.
And if you are found guilty of perjury, you can get two years
in the penitentiary [be]cause you violated my fifth amendment
of United States Constitution of America, of due process of
And also, you have violated my Arkansas Constitution, article
2, declaration of rights, section 8, due process of law, but
not limited to all my rights. The fourth amendment, the fifth
[a]mendment, the sixth amendment, the eight amendment, the
ninth amendment and the 14th amendment of the
United States Constitution of America, you all have violated,
infringed and abridged, meaning to cut short, to belittle. So
I am invoking, calling upon, my rights as of today.
The Court: Well, just slow down a bit now. First of all, I am
not on trial this morning, but you are. And I understand you
are at omnibus hearing.
Appellant: I want my constitutional right issues. My
fundamental rights of due process. You all are violating
The Court: Well, exercise your rights in whatever way you
need to. Now, what I normally do in cases- -you have the
right to represent yourself. Normally, in cases like this, I
will [ap]point a standby lawyer who will be accessible to you
for any legal assistance or help, or footwork, that you might
request of him or her. And I am going to institute that
process if it is not in existence already.
The public defender's office will serve as a standby
lawyer to research and will assist you in any way you want
him to assist you. He will not be compelled until you serve
or take advantage of your constitutional right to represent
Now, there is going to be a jury trial. There's going to
be rules of criminal procedure, whether you represent
yourself or whether somebody else assist you, whoever handles
the case will be required to follow. And being a lawyer is
very similar to being a physician. Most of us, we will all
have medical issues. We go and get the assistance of a doctor
if we want to. That is the option we have. Some of us may
work on our ailments ourselves. But you ultimately have your
right to work on these issues yourself. I just want you to
know that I am going to appoint a standby lawyer for your
I am going to give you time to go through all of your
motions. The public defender will be available. You can talk
to him if you want to; it is not required. Then I am going to
call you up later. I am going to continue this momentarily.
I am going to call up Mr. Robinson. Mr. Robinson, I have read
your previous case, and I am going to consider your pleadings
as a motion for me to recuse. And I am going to do that. I am
going to recuse and assign it to another judge to hear this
matter. So you will ...