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2011-UP-471 - State v. McCoy

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.

Terrell Lynwood McCoy, Appellant.


Appeal From Charleston County
Roger M. Young, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2011-UP-471
Submitted October 1, 2011 – Filed October 26, 2011   


AFFIRMED


Chief Appellate Defender Robert M. Dudek, of Columbia, for Appellant.

Attorney General Alan Wilson, Chief Deputy Attorney General John W. McIntosh, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Donald J. Zelenka, Assistant Attorney General Melody Brown, all of Columbia; and Solicitor Scarlett Anne Wilson, of Charleston, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM:  Terrell L. McCoy appeals his conviction for murder, arguing the circuit court erred in allowing McCoy to represent himself when the record does not show he made a knowing and intelligent waiver of his right to counsel.  We affirm.[1]

"It is well-established that an accused may waive the right to counsel and proceed pro se."  State v. Roberts, 369 S.C. 580, 583, 632 S.E.2d 871, 873 (2006).  "Once the defendant has waived counsel, the [circuit court] has the responsibility to ensure that the accused is informed of the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation, and makes a knowing and intelligent waiver of the right to counsel."  State v. Fuller, 337 S.C. 236, 241, 523 S.E.2d 168, 170 (1999).  "Although a specific inquiry by the [circuit court] expressly addressing the disadvantages of a pro se defense is preferred, the ultimate test is not the [circuit court's] advice, but the accused's understanding."  State v. Cash, 309 S.C. 40, 42, 419 S.E.2d 811, 813 (Ct.App. 1992).

Here, the circuit court made a specific inquiry about the disadvantages and obstacles inherent in self-representation.  The circuit court discussed the subtleties and interplay between the rules of evidence, preservation issues, and trial strategy.  The circuit court also emphasized the advantages of an experienced and objective lawyer.  Furthermore, the circuit court specifically advised McCoy against waiving his right to counsel and told him that he personally would not represent himself and offered anecdotes to illustrate the dangers of self-representation.  McCoy expressed an understanding of how trials work, acknowledged the dangers of self-representation, and repeatedly expressed his desire to proceed pro se.  The circuit court colloquy and McCoy's repeated desire to represent himself reveals a knowing and intelligent waiver of McCoy's right to counsel.  See id.(holding the ultimate test is not the circuit court's advice but the accused's understanding).

AFFIRMED.    

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


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