Sixth Amendment

Counsel Waiver Before En Banc Court

A federal appeals court has granted en banc review in the case of a man who fired his lawyer and represented himself at trial, resulting in a conviction for making bomb threats.

The full Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will consider what constitutes a valid waiver of a defendant’s right to counsel, according to the Fulton County Daily Report.

An 11th Circuit panel granted a new trial to Eddie M. Garey Jr., saying in an April opinion (PDF) that he had not voluntarily waived his right to counsel. Garey was accused of making a series of bomb threats in calls to 911 in Macon, Ga.

Garey had told the court that his court-appointed lawyer, Scott Huggins of Macon, should be disqualified because his office had also received bomb threats. The trial judge ruled there was no conflict of interest and told Garey he had a choice: Keep Huggins or proceed without a lawyer. Garey said he would “involuntarily” represent himself.

Garey’s appellate lawyer, William Mason of Columbus, Ga., said Garey has also tried to fire him but the 11th Circuit refused to allow it. “So, I’m still his lawyer,” told the legal newspaper, “and that’s what should have happened at the trial level.”

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