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Randal Joe Craft v. the State of Wyoming

October 14, 2011

RANDAL JOE CRAFT, APPELLANT (DEFENDANT),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, APPELLEE (PLAINTIFF).



Appeal from the District Court of Carbon County The Honorable Wade E. Waldrip, Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Burke, Justice.

Before KITE, C.J., and GOLDEN, HILL, VOIGT, and BURKE, JJ.

NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in Pacific Reporter Third. Readers are requested to notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Supreme Court Building, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002, of any typographical or other formal errors so that correction may be made before final publication in the permanent volume.

[¶1] Appellant, Randal Joe Craft, entered a conditional guilty plea to felony possession of a controlled substance in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 35-7-1031(c)(i)(A). He reserved the right to appeal whether he entered a valid waiver of counsel in a prior conviction that was used to enhance the present charge to a felony. We affirm.

ISSUE

[¶2] Appellant presents the following issue:

Should Appellant's municipal court conviction have been used to enhance this charge to a felony, if there was no valid waiver of counsel in the municipal court?

The State phrases the issue as follows:

Did the district court correctly find that in an earlier case Appellant knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his right to counsel?

FACTS

[¶3] On December 6, 2009, a Carbon County Sheriff's Deputy executed an arrest warrant on Appellant at his home.*fn1 He asked Appellant if there was anything he wanted to leave at his house, and Appellant responded by removing a baggie of marijuana from his pocket. The deputy later discovered that Appellant had received two prior misdemeanor convictions for possession of a controlled substance in the past year. As a result, Appellant was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance pursuant to the enhancement provisions of Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 35-7-1031(c)(i) (LexisNexis 2009).

[¶4] Appellant filed a "Motion to Dismiss," claiming that one of his earlier convictions used to enhance the charge to a felony was obtained without a valid waiver of his right to counsel. In his motion, Appellant asserted that "counsel for Defendant inspected the file for the Saratoga case and found nothing anywhere in the file that specifically noted that Defendant waived his right to counsel." Appellant further argued that "Even if the State could produce a transcript of the proceedings and show that Defendant was advised of his right to counsel, Defendant believes that any such advisement would be insufficient to permit him to make a knowing and valid waiver of his right to counsel."

[¶5] The State responded to Appellant's motion by producing a digital recording of the Saratoga hearing.*fn2 The recording established that Appellant had been informed of his rights, including his right to an attorney. The judge opened the plea colloquy by explaining that the purpose of the hearing was to make sure that Appellant understood (1) his constitutional rights, (2) the charges against him, (3) the maximum possible penalty for a conviction, and (4) that Appellant would have the opportunity to enter a plea. The judge then inquired as to whether Appellant understood this process and Appellant responded "Yes, sir." The judge proceeded to explain to Appellant his constitutional rights. The judge told Appellant that he had a right to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest, and noted that if he pled not guilty, he would have the right to a full, fair, and impartial trial before a jury. When asked if he understood this advice, Appellant responded "Yes, sir." The judge then informed Appellant of his right to remain silent at trial and his right to use the subpoena power of the court. The judge further explained that Appellant was presumed to be innocent, and that the State carried the burden of proving his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge concluded this segment of the colloquy by informing Appellant that he had the right to an attorney, and the right to a court-appointed attorney if he was indigent. When asked whether he had any questions about his constitutional rights, Appellant responded "No, sir."

[ΒΆ6] Next, the judge explained the nature of the charge, noting that it related to Appellant's possession of marijuana, a controlled substance, in violation of a town ordinance prohibiting possession of controlled substances. Appellant acknowledged that he understood the charges. The judge then advised Appellant of the maximum penalties for the charged offense and asked whether Appellant understood those penalties. He responded "Yes, sir." At that point, the judge asked Appellant if he wished to be represented by an attorney. Appellant responded "No, sir." The judge asked Appellant to repeat himself and he again replied "No, sir." After this discussion with Appellant, the court accepted ...


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