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North Carolina v. Gerald

Filed: December 1, 1981.

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.
DOUG GERALD



Appeal by defendant from judgments of Battle, J., entered at the 1 December 1980 Criminal Session of Robeson Superior Court.

Britt, Justice.

Britt

By his first assignment of error, defendant contends that the trial judge erred in failing to conduct a hearing to determine whether defendant wished to represent himself after defendant stated to the court that he did not want a lawyer.

This alleged error arose out of an incident that occurred during jury selection in which defendant spontaneously began to address the court. The trial judge immediately dismissed the prospective jurors from the courtroom and proceeded to inquire as to what was troubling defendant. The following exchange ensued.

Defendant Gerald: Your Honor, sir, excuse me, sir. I don't mean no harm. I try to give respect to everyone in the Courthouse.

Judge, Your Honor, sir, I don't know what's happening, but I would like to say this much, Judge, Your Honor --

The Court: Well, this is not the time for that. I will listen to what you want to say in just a little while.

Mr. Webster: Could Mr. Chavis and I approach the Bench, Your Honor?

The Court: Yes, Just sit down a little while.

(Discussion at Bench between Court and Counsel.)

The Court: All right. Members of the Jury, I'm going to ask you to step back in to the jury room for just a moment, please. Right back here.

And, Members of the Jury, out in the audience, I'm going to have to ask you to step out in the hall for just a moment, please. The Sheriff will let you know when to come back in.

(The following was had outside the presence of all jurors.)

The Court: All right. Mr. Gerald, what is it you wanted to say?

Defendant Gerald: Sir, I don't mean no harm, sir.

The Court: Right.

Defendant Gerald: Lots of times, I don't even know what I'm doing or saying, but, sir, I don't even want no more lawyer. I don't want no lawyer. I don't need no lawyer. I just rather for it to be like it is. I rather it be like it is. The Jury come on in and whatever, or whatever, and then in the jailhouse, it's running me crazy, sir. I don't know, but I rather for it to be like it is. I don't want no lawyer.

The Court: Well, you understand that right now we are just in the process of picking a jury, and your lawyer is doing the best he can.

Defendant Gerald: Sir, it's running me crazy in here, sir. It's running me crazy, making me dizzy and drunk in the head.

The Court: What is?

Defendant Gerald: Sitting in here waiting and worrying.

The Court: Well, I can appreciate the waiting and worrying, but we are now getting started in the trial, and it ...


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