Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Musico

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

May 19, 2017




         On May 2, 2017, the court held a hearing on a motion to withdraw filed by Defendant Darren Musico's court-appointed attorney, Paul D. Muller. In the midst of the hearing, Defendant Musico requested that he be allowed to represent himself as allowed under the Sixth Amendment. See Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975). The court granted that request and now sets forth the guidelines to which Defendant must adhere as a pro se Defendant.


         In Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975), the Supreme Court “recognized a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to conduct his own defense.” McKaskle v. Wiggins, 465 U.S. 168, 170 (1984). When a defendant proposes to exercise his right to represent himself he must “knowingly and intelligently forgo[] his right to counsel and . . . [be] able and willing to abide by rules of procedure and courtroom protocol.” Id. at 173. At the May 2, 2017, hearing this court determined that Defendant had “knowingly and intelligently” waived his right to counsel. The court found, and reiterates here, that Defendant was strongly cautioned against self-representation. He was offered the opportunity to have a substitute counsel appointed, although that might delay the trial. Defendant was admonished that his review of discovery materials would very likely be difficult; he acknowledged all cautions and reaffirmed his desire for self-representation. Defendant was found to be sober, not laboring under any medical disabilities or conditions nor affected by any mental delusions; he expressed himself cogently, properly, and politely, and the court adjudged him competent and ready to proceed.


         The court finds that there is no disabling lack of communication or disability of the part of Mr. Paul Mueller, counsel of record over the past two years, but only a disagreement about adjournments. Defendant expressed a lack of “trust” in counsel but gave no reason beyond his disagreement with the attorney's decision, on Defendant's behalf, to continue the trial date. There is no substantial reason that Mr. Mueller cannot adequately and professionally represent Defendant if needs be.

         The court orders counsel of record to remain in place for the purpose of standing by and being available to provide legal assistance to Defendant upon request before trial from time to time, and during trial out of the presence of the jury as may be needed. In that regard, Defendant's self-representation must be both actual and apparent from the perspective of the jury. Defendant will be able to discuss matters as needed during recesses; if Defendant needs an unscheduled recess to consult, he may so request by raising his hand and stating just “legal review” as the reason, the court will afford a brief recess. This recess procedure shall not be overused so as to inappropriately disrupt the trial process.


         The court now sets forth some basic principles entailed within the right to self-representation. “Faretta . . . and later cases have made clear that the right of self-representation is not absolute.” Indiana v. Edwards, 554 U.S. 164, 171 (2008).

         A. Dignity of the courtroom.

         Defendant is instructed that “[t]he right of self-representation is not a license to abuse the dignity of the courtroom. Neither is it a license not to comply with relevant rules of procedural and substantive law.” Faretta, 422 U.S. 806, 834 n.46 (1975). Further, the right “can be lost by disruptive behavior during trial, constituting constructive waiver” because “deliberate dilatory or obstructive behavior may operate in effect as a waiver of his pro se rights.” United States v. Dougherty, 473 F.2d 1113, 1124-25 (1972). Illinois v. Allen, 397 U.S. 337 (1970)).

         B. Integrity of the trial process.

         As the Faretta Court recognized, “the trial judge may terminate self-representation by a defendant who deliberately engages in serious and obstructionist misconduct.” Faretta, 422 U.S. at 834 n.46 (citing Illinois, 397 U.S. 337). “Even at the trial level . . . the government's interest in ensuring the integrity and efficiency of the trial at times outweighs the defendant's interest in acting as his own lawyer.” Martinez v. Court of Appeal of California, 528 U.S. 152, 162 (2000); see also generally Sell v. United States, 539 U.S. 166, 180 (2003) (“[T]he Government has a concomitant, constitutionally essential interest in assuring that the defendant's trial is a fair one.”).

         C. No instruction from the ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.