STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v. New Hanover County
No. 03 CRS 21668
JOHNNY R. CAMPBELL
Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Special Counsel Isaac T.
Avery, III, Special Deputy Attorney General William P. Hart
and Assistant Attorney General Patricia A. Duffy, for the
Paul T. Cleavenger for defendant.
Defendant was charged with impaired driving, habitual impaired
driving, driving while license revoked and assault on a government
official. After the matter was called for trial, defendant
executed a written waiver of counsel and proceeded to represent
himself at trial. The trial court dismissed the driving while
license revoked at the close of the State's evidence. A jury found
defendant guilty of assault on a government official/employee and
driving while impaired. Defendant stipulated to having three prior
driving while impaired convictions. The trial court sentenced
defendant to 25 to 30 months imprisonment for habitual impaireddriving and 150 days for assault on a government official.
In his first assignment of error, defendant contends the trial court erred by allowing him to proceed pro se without conducting an inquiry as required by N.C.G.S. § 15A-1242, which provides:
A defendant may be permitted at his election to proceed in the trial of his case without the assistance of counsel only after the trial judge makes thorough inquiry and is satisfied that the defendant:
(1) Has been clearly advised of his right to the assistance of counsel, including his right to the assignment of counsel when he is so entitled;
(2) Understands and appreciates the consequences of this decision; and
(3) Comprehends the nature of the charges and proceedings and the range of permissible punishments.
N.C.G.S. § 15A-1242 (2003). The provisions of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1242 are mandatory where the defendant requests to proceed pro se. The execution of a written waiver is no substitute for compliance by the trial court with the statute. State v. Evans, 153 N.C. App. 313, 315, 569 S.E.2d 673, 675 (2002)(citation omitted).
The following transpired when defendant's case was called for trial:
THE COURT: Okay. We're ready to proceed in the State of Johnny R. Campbell, also known as Chris Sava. And Mr. Campbell is present in court. Sir, are you Johnny Campbell?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Are you ready to proceed?
THE DEFENDANT: Yeah, I guess - - my attorney was supposed to enter some motions for me.
THE COURT: Which attorney?
THE DEFENDANT: Well, the one that ain't my attorney no more, Ms. Peregoy.
THE COURT: Well, you said you wanted to fire her.
THE DEFENDANT: Well, yeah, but she was supposed to put in a motion before . . .
. . .
THE COURT: Sir, we're beyond that. You asked that she be fired because she's gone.
THE DEFENDANT: No, she asked to be fired. I just agreed with her. This is stuff that lead up. . . . I've been asking for my indictment papers. . . .
After defendant and the court discussed various documents pertaining to defendant's case, the following colloquy occurred: THE COURT: So, you're going to represent yourself, sir?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Okay. Come up here and sign a waiver.
(The Defendant signed a waiver.)
Here, defendant expressed a desire to represent himself. The trial court then instructed defendant to execute a waiver but failed to proceed with the inquiry required under G.S. § 15A-1242. We conclude that in the absence of . . . the inquiry required by G.S. § 15A-1242, it was error to permit defendant to go to trial without the assistance of counsel. State v. White, 78 N.C. App.741, 746, 338 S.E.2d 614, 617 (1986). Accordingly, we reverse and remand.
Because of our disposition of this issue, we need not address defendant's remaining assignments of error.
Judges MCGEE and HUDSON concur.
Report per Rule 30(e).
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