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State of Idaho v. John Cornell anderson

October 19, 2006

STATE OF IDAHO, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JOHN CORNELL ANDERSON, III, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District, State of Idaho, Kootenai County. Hon. John T. Mitchell, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Perry, Chief Judge

2006 Opinion No. 70

Stephen W. Kenyon, Clerk

Judgments of conviction for misdemeanor domestic battery and felony harassing a witness, affirmed.

John Cornell Anderson, III, appeals from his judgments of conviction for for misdemeanor domestic battery and felony harassing a witness. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

I. FACTS AND PROCEDURE

Anderson shoved his wife several times in the front yard of his girlfriend's residence, and a neighbor phoned for the police upon witnessing the incident. Two police officers responded and eventually arrested Anderson, citing him for domestic battery. I.C. § 18-918(3)(b). Several days after this incident, Anderson left a voicemail for one of the arresting officers. In the voicemail, Anderson identified himself, noted the pending domestic battery charge, and made threatening statements directed at the officer regarding the officer's potential testimony at trial.

The officer saved a recording of the voicemail and reported Anderson's actions to the prosecutor's office.

The state charged Anderson with harassing a witness.*fn1 I.C. § 18-2604(3). The charges were consolidated for trial by the district court. Anderson waived his right to counsel and chose to represent himself through all stages of the case, including the jury trial. Anderson was found guilty by a jury of both charges. At sentencing, however, Anderson acquired counsel. The district court sentenced Anderson to 180 days incarceration for the misdemeanor domestic battery and a unified sentence of four years, with a minimum period of confinement of one year, for felony harassing a witness. Both sentences were suspended and Anderson was placed on probation. Anderson appeals.

II. ANALYSIS

On appeal, Anderson asserts his waiver of counsel was invalid. Anderson also argues the jury instructions regarding his charge of felony harassing a witness were erroneous.*fn2

A. Waiver of Counsel

Anderson asserts his waiver of his right to counsel was invalid because the district court failed to adequately warn Anderson of the risks of proceeding to trial without an attorney. Anderson argues the district court should have been aware of his inability to represent himself at trial and should have explained to him the complexities of the trial process and all the elements of the charges he was facing.

When reviewing a lower court's determination regarding the waiver of a constitutional right, we accept the trial court's findings of fact if supported by substantial evidence; however, we freely review the court's application of constitutional requirements to the facts as found. State v. Hoffman, 116 Idaho 689, 691, 778 P.2d 811, 813 (Ct. App. 1989). A criminal defendant has a constitutional right to the assistance of counsel at all critical stages of the criminal process.

Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335, 345 (1963); State v. Blevins, 108 Idaho 239, 241-42, 697 P.2d 1253, 1255-56 (Ct. App. 1985). An accused also has the right to waive the assistance of counsel and to represent himself or herself. See Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975); State v. Averett, 142 Idaho 879, 885, 136 P.3d 350, 356 (Ct. App. 2006). A waiver of the right to counsel is valid only if it was effected knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently. Averett, 142 Idaho at 885, 136 P.3d at 356. The burden is upon the state to show that the waiver satisfied this standard. State v. Hunnel, 125 Idaho 623, 625, 873 P.2d 877, 879 (1994). If there was a deprivation of the right to counsel through the trial court's acceptance of an invalid waiver, the error is fundamental and ...


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