Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
Site Map | Feedback
2011-UP-499 - State v. Grant

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.

Derrick Grant, Appellant.


Appeal From Berkeley County
 R. Markley Dennis, Jr., Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2011-UP-499
Submitted November 1, 2011 – Filed November 9, 2011


AFFIRMED


Senior Appellate Defender Joseph L. Savitz, III, of Columbia, for Appellant.

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

PER CURIAM:  Derrick Grant appeals his conviction for murder, arguing the circuit court erred in allowing him to proceed with his trial pro se because his waiver of his right to counsel was not knowingly and intelligently made.[1]  We affirm.[2]

A defendant may waive his right to counsel and proceed pro se.  State v. McLauren, 349 S.C. 488, 493, 563 S.E.2d 346, 348 (Ct. App. 2002); see also Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 817 (1975) ("[F]orcing a lawyer upon an unwilling defendant is contrary to his basic right to defend himself if he truly wants to do so.").  The waiver, however, must be made knowingly and intelligently.  McLauren, 349 S.C. at 493, 563 S.E.2d at 348.  The defendant must be (1) advised of his right to counsel and (2) adequately warned of the dangers of self-representation.  Id. at 493, 563 S.E.2d at 348-49.  "[T]he record [must] establish [the defendant] knows what he is doing and his choice is made with eyes open."  Faretta, 422 U.S. at 835 (internal quotation marks omitted).  Thus, "[t]he ultimate test of whether a defendant has made a knowing and intelligent waiver of the right to counsel is not the [circuit court's] advice, but the defendant's understanding."  McLauren, 349 S.C. at 493, 563 S.E.2d at 348 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).  "In the absence of a specific inquiry by the [circuit court] addressing the disadvantages of a pro se defense as required by the second Faretta prong, the appellate court will look to the record to determine whether [a defendant] had sufficient background or was apprised of his rights by some other source."  Id. at 494, 563 S.E.2d at 349; cf. Faretta, 422 U.S. at 835 ("The record affirmatively shows that Faretta was literate, competent, and understanding, and that he was voluntarily exercising his informed free will.").

South Carolina courts consider the following series of factors "in determining if [a defendant] had sufficient background to understand the disadvantages of self-representation":

(1) the [defendant's] age, educational background, and physical and mental health; (2) whether the [defendant] was previously involved in criminal trials; (3) whether he knew of the nature of the charge and of the possible penalties; (4) whether he was represented by counsel before trial or whether an attorney indicated to him the difficulty of self-representation in his particular case; (5) whether he was attempting to delay or manipulate the proceedings; (6) whether the court appointed stand-by counsel; (7) whether the accused knew he would be required to comply with the rules of procedure at trial; (8) whether he knew of legal challenges he could raise in defense to the charges against him; (9) whether the exchange between the [defendant] and the court consisted merely of pro forma answers to pro forma questions; and (10) whether the [defendant's] waiver resulted from either coercion or mistreatment.

State v. Cash, 309 S.C. 40, 42-43, 419 S.E.2d 811, 813 (Ct. App. 1992).

Here, we find the record shows Grant was knowingly and voluntarily exercising his informed free will.  In addition to the circuit court's repeated warnings of the dangers of self-representation throughout the pretrial phase and at the beginning of the trial, the record, in light of the Cash factors, supports the finding Grant understood his right to counsel and the consequences of self-representation.  Grant was a literate adult with a criminal history, but no evidence suggests any physical or mental impairment.  He was represented by counsel until he requested the circuit court, approximately four months after his arrest, to relieve him of his representation for irreconcilable differences over how his defense should be conducted.  Grant never attempted to delay proceedings, voluntarily withdrawing his only motion for a continuance of the trial.  Up until he was assisted by standby counsel, he made several motions to suppress evidence and requests for discovery materials under Rule 5, SCRCrimP.  Moreover, the circuit court, on multiple occasions, suggested he retain a public defender to represent him.  However, Grant made his mistrust of public defenders clear, noting he was comfortable with his self-representation while also declaring he was "scared out of [his] mind, not knowing nothing about nothing."  Cf. Faratta, 422 U.S. at 807-08 (involving a defendant who opted to represent himself because of what he perceived as an overwhelming caseload of the public defender).

At trial, Grant displayed a competent understanding of the process.  He made several objections and successfully suppressed a photograph for its prejudicial effect.  He cross-examined many of the State's witnesses, engaging the State's investigators in particularly lengthy examinations.  Thus, the record shows Grant knew what he was doing and that he made his choice with eyes open.  Accordingly, the decision of the circuit court is

AFFIRMED.

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


[1] Because we find the waiver was valid, we decline to address any remaining issues.  See Futch v. McAllister Towing of Georgetown, Inc., 335 S.C. 598, 613, 518 S.E.2d 591, 598 (1999) (holding an appellate court need not review remaining issues when its determination of a prior issue is dispositive of the appeal).

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