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2010-UP-290 - State v. Crabtree

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE. IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 268(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

The State, Respondent,

v.

Steven B. Crabtree, Appellant.


Appeal From Beaufort County
Carmen T. Mullen, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No.   2010-UP-290
Submitted May 3, 2010 – Filed May 24, 2010


AFFIRMED


Appellate Defender Elizabeth A. Franklin-Best, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Henry Dargan McMaster, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Salley W. Elliott, Senior Assistant Attorney General Norman Mark Rapoport, all of Columbia; Solicitor Issac McDuffie Stone, III, of Beaufort, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Steven B. Crabtree appeals his conviction for third-degree burglary, arguing the trial court erred in: (1) denying his motion to relieve counsel and (2) failing to properly advise him regarding his right to self-representation.  We affirm.[1]          

1.  As to whether the trial court erred in denying Crabtree's motion to relieve counsel:  The trial court conducted a thorough investigation into the basis of Crabtree's complaints against his trial counsel.  Although Crabtree certainly expressed disagreement with his trial counsel's strategies and prospective defenses to the crime, none of his objections prevented him from communicating with his attorney or precluded trial counsel from preparing a zealous defense for him.  Accordingly, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Crabtree's motion to relieve counsel.  See State v. Childers, 373 S.C. 367, 372, 645 S.E.2d 233, 235 (2007) ("A motion to relieve counsel is addressed to the discretion of the trial judge and will not be disturbed absent an abuse of discretion."); State v. Sims, 304 S.C. 409, 414, 405 S.E.2d 377, 380 (1991) (holding an appellate court may consider several factors in determining whether the trial court abused its discretion in a motion for substitution of counsel: timeliness of the motion, adequacy of the trial judge's inquiry into the defendant's complaint, and whether the attorney-client conflict was so great that it resulted in a total lack of communication, thereby preventing an adequate defense).     

2.  As to whether the trial court erred in failing to properly advise Crabtree regarding his right to self-representation:  Here, a review of the record indicates Crabtree did not request to proceed pro se at any time during his trial.  Therefore, the trial court did not err in failing to advise Crabtree regarding his right to self-representation because it was not required to inform Crabtree of the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation until Crabtree clearly requested to proceed pro se.  See State v. Fuller, 337 S.C. 236, 241, 523 S.E.2d 168, 170 (1999) ("A defendant's right to waive the assistance of counsel is not unlimited. The request to proceed pro se must be clearly asserted by the defendant prior to trial.").       

AFFIRMED.

FEW, C.J., THOMAS and PIEPER, JJ., concur.


[1]  We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.