Can a Criminal Defendant Represent Himself In Texas ?
Warnings defendants of the dangers of self-representation in texas:
It is not enough that the record show conclusions by the trial court that the defendant is aware of the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation.
Although it is not mandatory that the warnings be given in writing, the court has previously held that the record must show that the defendant understands the consequences of his waiver. Goffney v. State, 812 S.W.2d 351, 352 (Tex. App.--Waco 1991), aff'd, 843 S.W.2d 583 (Tex. Crim. App. 1992).
In Goffney, the only references to the defendant's self-representation appeared in the docket sheet, the judgment, and the sentence.
The docket sheet stated that the defendant appeared pro se, waived counsel and waived the record. Goffney v. State, 843 S.W.2d 583, 584 (Tex. Crim. App. 1992).
The judgment and sentence stated that the defendant "knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waived his right to counsel." Id. In Goffney, the State argued that the reason the admonishments were not in the record was because no record had been made of them and that the self-represented defendant did not object to the failure to have the record reflect the admonishments when given.
Any lawyer would have been required to make such an objection but it was determined that the self-represented defendant did not have to object, apparently because until he has validly waived his right to counsel he is not representing himself.
This presents another common-sense problem in practice.
If the defendant is not admonished until the middle of trial and at the time of admonishment elects to continue, he has then validly waived any objection that he could have made regarding the timing of the admonishments.