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Mail and Wire Fraud Conviction Affirmed

By FindLaw Staff on July 02, 2010 12:33 PM

In US v. Hall, No. 06-3185, the court of appeals affirmed defendant's mail and wire fraud convictions, holding that 1) the district court's findings that defendant's decision to represent himself (with standby counsel) was knowing and voluntary met the criteria in Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975), for determining when a defendant may exercise his constitutional right to forgo his right to counsel; and 2) defendant failed to show a likelihood that the constructive amendment of the indictment affected the verdict or seriously affected the fairness, integrity, or public reputation of judicial proceedings.  However, based on the government's concession, the court vacated and remanded defendant's sentence.

As the court wrote:  "Robert L. Hall, Jr. was convicted by a jury of operating a "Ponzi" scheme for more than two years involving over a million dollars in which more than seventy investors lost all or a large portion of their investment. He challenges his conviction primarily on the ground that the district court failed to conduct an adequate inquiry to determine whether his waiver of his right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was voluntary and knowing. Specifically, he maintains the inquiry failed to dispel his belief that his counsel was unprepared for trial. We hold that the district court's inquiry was constitutionally adequate because the district court's findings that Hall's decision to represent himself (with standby counsel) was knowing and voluntary met the criteria in Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975), for determining when a defendant may exercise his constitutional right to forgo his right to counsel. Viewing the proceedings as a whole, we reject Hall's assertion that he faced the constitutional dilemma of choosing between representing himself or accepting unprepared counsel. The district court's colloquy with Hall addressed his complaints by identifying
Hall's false premise regarding discovery and by explaining how Hall's generalized complaints did not indicate defense counsel would not provide effective assistance."

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