Standby Counsel In Texas

In Robertson v. State, the Houston Fourteenth District Court of Appeals held that when a defendant has standby counsel at his disposal, the defendant has not waived the assistance of counsel, and the trial court is not required to admonish the defendant on the dangers of self-representation. See Robertson v. State, 934 S.W.2d 861, 864 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1996, no pet.). In doing so, the Robertson court relied on decisions from the court of criminal appeals holding admonishments are not required when an accused has hybrid representation, i.e. is represented partially pro se and partially by counsel. See e.g., Clark v. State, 717 S.W.2d 910, 918 (Tex. Crim. App. 1986); Maddox v. State, 613 S.W.2d 275, 286 (Tex. Crim. App. 1980) (op. on reh'g). Comparing standby counsel with hybrid representation, the Robertson court noted that in both instances, the defendant assumes control over important tactical considerations and decides the extent to which the assistance of counsel will actually be invoked. Robertson, 934 S.W.2d at 865. Thus, the Robertson court concluded that because admonishments are not necessary for hybrid representation, they are not necessary when standby counsel is available. See Robertson, 934 S.W.2d at 866. In Walker v. State, the Houston First District Court of Appeals, adopting the reasoning of Robertson, also concluded that a defendant with standby counsel need not be admonished on the dangers of self- representation. Walker v. State, 962 S.W.2d 124, 126 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1997, pet. ref'd).