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Westray v. State

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

June 25, 2014

WILLIAM WESTRAY
v.
STATE of MARYLAND

Page 135

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 136

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Robert Greenberg, Judge.

Argued by: Marc A. DeSimone, Jr. (Paul B. DeWolfe, Public Defender on the brief) all of Baltimore, MD for Appellant.

Argued by: Gary E. O'Connor (Douglas F. Gansler, Attorney General on the brief) al of Baltimore, MD. for Appellee.

OPINION

Page 137

[217 Md.App. 433] Kenney, J.

A jury sitting in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County convicted William Westray, appellant, on nine counts of first degree burglary, ten counts of theft, and two counts of attempted first degree burglary. The trial court imposed an aggregate sentence of sixty years' incarceration.

He presents three contentions in his brief, which we have rephrased as follows:[1]

[217 Md.App. 434] 1. Did the circuit court discharge counsel in compliance with Md. Rule 4-215?

2. Did the circuit court err or abuse its discretion by denying appellant's request for the appointment of pro bono counsel?

3. Has review of the search warrant been preserved for appellate review?

As we shall explain, we answer the first question " no." We address the second question in the event of a retrial. The third question is not preserved for our review.

Factual and Procedural History[2]

On May 15, 2012, Westray appeared before the circuit court for a hearing to address assigned counsel's concern that " he's had difficulty speaking with [Westray]." Reminding Westray that an August trial date had been scheduled, the court cautioned Westray and indicated that it " want[ed] to make sure that [Westray was] well represented."

Westray quickly voiced his dissatisfaction with assigned counsel[3]:

MR. WESTRAY: I mean this man is an idiot, sir. Straight, straight, straight down, he's an idiot. . . . I'm saying it now. [217 Md.App. 435] You might as well going to kill me. I'm not going into a courtroom with this man.

Page 138

THE COURT: Have you had the opportunity to meet with [assigned counsel]?
MR. WESTRAY: He don't do nothing I ask him to do. So what, I mean what, what do I need a lawyer if he here for me, not for himself. Okay?
* * *
THE COURT: Are you telling me that you have met with him before?
MR. WESTRAY: Yeah. This man, this man, this man don't listen to nothing I tell him. I mean he's an idiot. Look at him. He's an idiot.
THE COURT: Now --
MR. WESTRAY: Seriously.
THE COURT: -- you've met, Mr. Westray, you've met --
MR. WESTRAY: Let's go over -- I'm going to tell you this. I'm not coming --
THE COURT: Just listen.
MR. WESTRAY: -- to court with this man, okay?
THE COURT: Have you met with --
MR. WESTRAY: I will represent myself and I would die first before I, before I, before I, before I come to court with this man, okay?

Westray continued until the circuit court turned to assigned counsel for an explanation:

THE COURT: All right. [Assigned counsel], do you want to be heard on this?

[ASSIGNED COUNSEL]: Yes, Your Honor. I was assigned to represent Mr. Westray. I went out and met him on different occasions. We had a meeting on February 22nd of this year and I was able to get some biographical information from him.

I met him on the 28th of February and I got, I got nowhere. He wouldn't engage with me. I had, I had some [217 Md.App. 436] doubts as to whether he was competent or not. [4] I called some family members. I never really got a clear answer about that .
At some point he indicated to me that maybe he was going to try to retain counsel, that maybe family members had the ability to do that. I spoke to his uncle who indicated that Mr. Westray had inherited some money some period of time ago, but his uncle didn't believe any of that money was still available and that there were no funds in the family for him to retain private counsel.
I've tried to meet with him since. I think I tried to go meet with him two weeks ago and he refused to meet with me at all.
THE COURT: Has he ever asked you to do something that you haven't done to your knowledge?
[ASSIGNED COUNSEL]: Not, not to my knowledge. I've called family members and I've received discovery in the case. I haven't even had a chance to start to discuss it with him and show

Page 139

him what the different pieces of evidence against him are. He's indicted in about a dozen first-degree, you know, residential ...

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