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Name: United States v. Rice
Case #: 13-10152
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 01/22/2015
Summary

District court’s delay in ruling on defendant’s motion for self-representation did not violate the Sixth Amendment because the court’s later actions ensured that defendant received a fair chance to present his case in his own way. At his arraignment on money laundering charges, Rice notified the court that he would be representing himself. The district court said it would decide the issue at a later date, and appointed the public defender to represent Rice. After the hearing, the trial court ordered 12 pretrial motions that Rice filed stricken because a local rule prohibited pro se filings by represented parties. At a hearing four months later, the court granted Rice’s request for self-representation, invited him to refile his motions, and extended the relevant deadline to do so. Rice represented himself at trial and was found guilty. He appealed, arguing that he was denied the right to self-representation between his arraignment and the date when his Faretta motion was granted. Held: Affirmed. The Sixth Amendment right to counsel, and the right to self-representation, applies at the first court appearance where the defendant is told of the formal accusation against him. Although the district court should have taken up the self-representation request more expeditiously, the court’s actions during the later hearing ensured that there was no constitutional violation. The court invited Rice to refile all motions and extended the time for filing them. The court also set the trial date later so that Rice actually had more time to prepare than he would have had he begun representing himself earlier. The court placed Rice in the same situation as he would have been had the court granted his Faretta motion at the arraignment, and thus he received precisely what the Sixth Amendment guarantees.