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Claimed Violation of Right to Self-Representation Rejected in US v. Long

By FindLaw Staff on February 19, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In US v. Long, No. 09-10003, defendant was convicted after trial for willfully failing to file tax returns.  Defendant appealed on grounds that he was denied the right to represent himself and that the trial court erred in denying his pro se motion to dismiss based on the Speedy Trial Act.

Regarding the primary issue of self-representation, the Fifth Circuit wrote:  "Long appeared with [an] Assistant Federal Public Defendant ... who informed the court that she had requested the pretrial hearing because Long had said 'he fired our office' and 'essentially said that he wished to represent himself' and that she believed that accordingly he should 'be advised of Faretta warnings by this court.' Thereafter, at the request of Long, [the public defendant] moved for a continuance of the trial which Judge Cummings denied. Judge Cummings accordingly then asked the defendant whether he wished to represent himself. Long responded, 'No, sir.'"

The court of appeals affirmed, holding that 1) did not timely, clearly, and unequivocally assert it, and any attempts to assert that right were waived by his own obstructionist behavior combined with his negative answer to the district court's inquiry whether he desired to represent himself; and 2) defendant waived his rights under the Speedy Trial Act because he failed to properly put the issue before the trial court.

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