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Court rejects argument that waiver of counsel was involuntary because it was not “free from financial constraint”

State v. Gregory Garro, 2013AP342-CR, District 1, 12/27/13; court of appeals decision (not recommended for publication); case activity

Garro waived the right to counsel before trial after two retained lawyers withdrew because he couldn’t pay them. (3). Garro told the court he couldn’t afford the fees quoted by the lawyers, but did have some money to hire counsel. (4). After being given time to look for a lawyer he could afford, Garro decided to represent himself and, after a thorough colloquy, the court allowed him to do so. (¶¶5-11). Postconviction, he argued his waiver of counsel before trial was not voluntary because the trial court failed to establish that his waiver was “free from financial constraint.” (¶15). The court rejects the argument:

¶21      First, Garro’s argument is unsupported by citation to any legal authority requiring the trial court to ensure that his waiver was “free from financial constraint,” and he fails to otherwise explain how his argument relates to the four [State v.Klessig[, 211 Wis. 2d 194, 564 N.W.2d 716 (1997),] factors. We do not consider undeveloped arguments that are unsupported by legal authority. See State v. Pettit, 171 Wis. 2d 627, 646-47, 492 N.W.2d 633 (Ct. App. 1992).

¶22     Second, the law dictates that Garro was entitled to “an adequate lawyer, not the best lawyer.” See State v. Hanson, 2000 WI App 10, ¶20, 232 Wis. 2d 291, 606 N.W.2d 278 (Ct. App. 1999). While Garro informed the court that he could not afford to pay $50,000-$60,000 for an attorney, he could afford to pay $10,000-$15,000.  Furthermore, the trial court told Garro that it could, upon Garro’s request, appoint him counsel if he could not afford a lawyer. Garro made no request for a court-appointed lawyer and continued to request permission to represent himself. The record demonstrates that Garro certainly had access to a constitutionally adequate attorney and that he was not financially limited to proceeding pro se.

In a fact-specific analysis, the court also holds that the trial court properly exercised its discretion in excluding evidence Garro sought to introduce because it was not relevant. (¶¶2, 24-34).

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