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Reifer v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

November 5, 2014

KIM REIFER, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff)

Page 1215

Appeal from the District Court of Big Horn County. The Honorable Robert E. Skar, Judge.

Representing Appellant: Office of the State Public Defender: Diane Lozano, State Public Defender; Tina N. Olson, Chief Appellate Counsel.

Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Jenny L. Craig, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Mackenzie Williams, Senior Assistant Attorney General.

Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, KITE, DAVIS, and FOX, JJ.

OPINION

Page 1216

DAVIS, Justice.

[¶1] Appellant Kim Reifer challenges the revocation of his probation on constitutional grounds. He contends that the district court failed to properly advise him about the dangers of representing himself in the revocation proceedings, and that without the required warnings, his decision to forego counsel could not have been knowing and intelligent. We affirm.

ISSUE

[¶2] The issue for our determination is whether Appellant validly waived his Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

FACTS

[¶3] Appellant was initially charged with one count of first degree sexual abuse of a minor, and one count of second degree sexual abuse for another incident involving the same minor. The first degree count carried a penalty of twenty-five to fifty years in prison, and the second degree count carried a maximum penalty of twenty years in prison. Wyo. Stat. Ann. § § 6-2-314(a)(i), (c) and 6-2-315(a)(ii), (b) (LexisNexis 2013). The State also alleged that Appellant had a prior conviction for child sexual abuse, and that he could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of either charge. Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-306(d) (LexisNexis 2013).

[¶4] Appellant was appointed counsel and pled not guilty in district court after the circuit court found probable cause to support the charges and bound him over. Following a change of counsel, Appellant pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement to two misdemeanor counts of sexual battery under Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 6-2-313 (LexisNexis 2013). The district court sentenced him to the maximum penalty of two consecutive one-year terms of incarceration in the county detention center pursuant to the agreement. He was given credit for 442 days of time served pending trial, and the remaining 288 days of his sentence was suspended in favor of probation. The district court explained the terms of probation to Appellant and answered his questions about them. Appellant's public defender then withdrew because the case had concluded.

[¶5] Roughly four months later, the State filed a petition to revoke Appellant's probation for an alleged failure to obtain a sex offender evaluation as required by one of the terms of his probation. Before his initial appearance, Appellant wrote to the judge, stating that " I do not want a public defender representing [me in] this case. I am representing myself." He wrote a second letter the next day, ...


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