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People v. Lavadie.

2021 CO 42. No. 20SC251. Constitutional Law—Sixth Amendment—Right to Self-Representation.

June 7, 2021


The Supreme Court held that, in deciding whether a defendant may exercise the right to self-representation, the trial court must first consider whether the totality of the circumstances demonstrates that the defendant has voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently waived the right to counsel. Only if the totality of the circumstances supports a valid waiver of the right to counsel can the defendant exercise the right to self-representation.

The Court held that, while a trial court would do better to warn defendants that their lack of cooperation or obstreperous behavior during an advisement pursuant to People v. Arguello, 772 P.2d 87 (Colo. 1989), can prevent self-representation, the failure to provide such a warning alone doesn’t constitute error. The Court also declined to impose on trial courts an affirmative duty to revisit a deficient waiver of the right to counsel.

Accordingly, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ judgment.

Official Colorado Supreme Court proceedings can be found at the Colorado Supreme Court website.

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