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Patton v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

February 6, 2019



          Robert M. "Robby" Golden, for appellant.

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


         On February 7, 2018, Adam Patton was convicted in the Desha County Circuit Court of rape and incest.[1] On appeal, he argues that the circuit court violated his Sixth Amendment right to assistance of counsel. We affirm.

         I. Procedural History

         Appellant was charged by information filed on August 19, 2016, with the rape of his son, JP. The information was amended on May 16, 2017, to include three counts of rape and two counts of incest involving the same victim.

         At the pretrial hearing on September 18, 2017, the circuit court granted defense counsel's motion to withdraw, which was based on appellant's failure to contact him. Appellant alleged that he had tried to contact his lawyer but agreed that they had not spoken prior to the pretrial hearing. When the circuit court told appellant that it was inclined to grant counsel's motion to withdraw, appellant asked the court to give him time to find another lawyer. The circuit court granted the motion to withdraw and continued appellant's case until January 22, 2018, which was the pretrial date. The circuit court told appellant that he needed a lawyer on his case within the next month to two months. The trial date was reset to February 6-9, 2018.

         At the pretrial hearing on January 22, appellant told the court he had not hired another attorney because he could not find anyone he "could come to an agreement on, moneywise, financially." The following colloquy occurred:

The Court: Mr. Patton is here for pretrial. The State has charged him with the offenses of rape, which allegedly occurred between 2012 and 2016. He was formerly represented by Mr. Robinson, his firm, which filed a motion to withdraw which I granted in September. He was to hire another lawyer. [Appellant], have you done that?
Appellant: No, sir, Your Honor. I haven't, I guess, found somebody that we could come to an agreement on, moneywise, financially. I was here today to ask you for, if maybe the courts would appoint me one, to say the evidence and all that the courts have against me, I guess I'm unprepared You know, I have spoke to a few different lawyers. We just can't come to an agreement, Your Honor, so I'm kind of at your mercy.
The Court: What is your income?
Appellant: Right now, Your Honor, not a lot. You know, I ran across a little stroke of luck a little while back with the lottery, and all that I've been living off of, me and my family. As far as income weekly, there isn't any.
The Court: How much money do you have left from your winnings?
Appellant: Well, there was remodeling of my mother's home, vehicles for my wife and my oldest son, one for me, one for my mother. So
The Court: You're not indigent. I'm not going to appoint you a lawyer. It's clear to me that you are trying to take advantage of the system. Now, you're going to trial in two weeks with or without a lawyer. I don't care.
The Court: Well, I'm not going to appoint him counsel. He is not indigent. And that's what I, the Constitution requires is me to appoint indigent counsel. Now, if he wants to go to trial without a lawyer, he's made that choice as far as I'm concerned. Just his statements regarding his disposition of his lottery winnings is clear to me that he had not taken care of his personal business and he's putting himself in this position. I so find. So, we'll just go from there. You're ordered back to court for jury trial February 6th-we're going to set that date right now-at 8:30 a.m. You can be dismissed until then.

         Prior to the commencement of the trial on February 6, the State requested as follows:

Prosecutor: Judge, the only other issue-and the court may have done this on the pretrial date that we had, you know, a little over two weeks ago and I may have missed it. But-So if the court has done this, I'll withdraw the request.
With the situation we're in with [appellant] being deemed not to be indigent, I didn't know if there was a record made as the fact that he did win the lottery, he acknowledged that, the amount that he won and when that was. I think-I don't think the record reflects that. And I would ask that, the court would inquire as to that so that the record would reflect that, that winnings and earnings.
Appellant: I believe it was around the first of March or so, Your Honor. It was a little over six hundred and eighty thousand ($680, 000) is what I left there with.
The Court: Okay. So around March 1st ...

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