Rehearing Denied November 20, 2019
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
FROM THE MISSISSIPPI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, CHICKASAWBA
DISTRICT [NO. 47BCR-16-94], HONORABLE RALPH WILSON, JR.,
Akram, pro se appellant.
Rutledge, Atty Gen., by: Chris R. Warthen, Asst Atty Gen.,
R. ABRAMSON, Judge
Appellant Jamal Akram was convicted by a Mississippi County
jury of first-degree murder and was sentenced as a habitual
offender to sixty years imprisonment. This court upheld his
conviction in Akram v. State, 2018 Ark.App. 504, 560
S.W.3d 509. Akram filed a Rule 37 petition challenging issues
concerning his waiver of counsel at trial as well as a claim
assistance of appellate counsel. On January 14, 2019, the
circuit court denied his petition. Akram now appeals the
circuit courts denial of his petition. On appeal, he argues
that his waiver of trial counsel was invalid because his
request to represent himself was equivocal and untimely, and
he had ineffective assistance of appellate counsel on direct
appeal. Neither point has merit, and we affirm.
Akrams conviction stems from the beating death of his
live-in girlfriend, whose body was found in their home on
March 18, 2016. Prior to the start of the second day of
trial, Akram asked to represent himself. After the circuit
court delivered a lengthy lecture about the dangers of
self-representation and a thorough inquiry into Akrams
desire to represent himself, Akram signed a waiver of counsel
and was allowed to represent himself.
reviewing a circuit courts ruling on a Rule 37 petition, we
will not reverse the circuit courts decision granting or
denying postconviction relief unless it is clearly erroneous.
E.g., Nichols v. State, 2017 Ark. 129, at
2, 517 S.W.3d 404, 407. A decision is clearly erroneous if,
even with evidence to support the decision, this court
"is left with the definite and firm conviction that a
mistake has been committed." Id.
defendant has a constitutional right to self-representation.
Faretta v. California,422 U.S. 806, 95 S.Ct. 2525,
45 L.Ed.2d 562 (1975). This necessarily requires the waiver
of the right to be represented by counsel, which is a
personal right that may be waived at the pretrial stage or at
trial. E.g., Jarrett v. State, 371 Ark.
100, 104, 263 S.W.3d 538, 542 (2007). A criminal defendant
may invoke his right to defend himself pro se if "(1)
the request to waive the right to counsel is unequivocal and
timely asserted, (2) there has been a knowing and intelligent
waiver of the right to counsel, and (3) the defendant has not
engaged in conduct that would prevent the fair and orderly
exposition of the issues." Id., 263 S.W.3d at
541. Every reasonable presumption must be indulged against
the waiver of fundamental constitutional ...