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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Authorities charged Janet Lorraine Williams with the Class A misdemeanor offense of terroristic threat for threatening to assault a teacher’s assistant at her son’s elementary school. Williams pleaded not guilty, and when she appeared for trial, she did not have an attorney. Williams told the trial judge that she wanted to represent herself. The trial judge then engaged in a brief colloquy with Williams about her desire to proceed pro se. During this discussion, the trial judge informed Williams of the charge and the applicable range of punishment and warned her that she would be dealing with an “experienced prosecutor.” Although the judge told Williams that she had the right to an attorney, the judge neither informed Williams that she would be entitled to an attorney if she could not afford one nor inquired into Williams’ indigent status even though Williams stated that she did not hire an attorney, because she could not afford one. Despite the inadequate admonishments, the judge allowed Williams to represent herself. A jury found Williams guilty and assessed her punishment at 30 days of confinement in the county jail and a $1 fine. The jury, however, suspended the sentence and placed Williams on community supervision for six months. Williams filed a notice of appeal and a sworn affidavit of indigency. After a short indigency hearing, the trial judge determined that Williams was indigent and appointed her an attorney for appeal. On appeal before the 14th Court of Appeals, Williams claimed that her decision to waive counsel was not made knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily, because the trial judge failed to adequately address her indigent status and her right to appointed counsel. The 14th Court determined that Williams’ waiver of her right to counsel was invalid. The court stated: “[A]ppellant’s waiver of her right to counsel was not made knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily as required by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.” The court held that the error was fundamental and not subject to a harmless error analysis under Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 44.2(d). As a result, the court reversed the trial court’s judgment and remanded the case for a new trial. The state petitioned the CCA for review, presenting two grounds: 1. whether any error in the trial court’s admonishments to the defendant regarding self-representation was a nonstructural constitutional error subject to harm analysis, and 2. whether the 14th Court erred by not performing a harmless error analysis. HOLDING:Affirmed. The Sixth Amendment, the court stated, guarantees that “[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right . . . to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.” An indigent defendant is entitled to appointed counsel unless the defendant competently, intelligently and voluntarily waives the right to counsel. The Sixth Amendment also includes the right to self-representation. Once the right to self-representation has been asserted, the trial judge must inform the defendant about “the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation, so that the record will establish that”he knows what he is doing and his choice is made with eyes open.’ “ The state contended that the 14th Court should have determined whether the trial judge’s failure to admonish Williams more fully was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. In making this argument, the state cited Fulbright v. State, a 2001 decision by the 2nd Court of Appeals in which the court concluded that insufficient admonishments of a similar nature were harmless. Like the defendant in Fulbright, the state argued, Williams “had a history of firing court-appointed attorneys in this and other cases.” The state further contended that, had Williams been properly admonished, the outcome of the trial would have been no different. But the court found that the case turned on a different issue. By holding, the court noted, that Williams’ waiver of her right to trial counsel was not made knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily, the 14th Court determined that her waiver was invalid. The court found that the state did not challenge this holding, rather characterizing the error as one involving insufficient admonishments. An invalid waiver, the court stated, waives nothing; therefore, Williams’ right to trial counsel remained intact. As a result, Williams was entitled to be represented by counsel during her trial. Because the trial judge allowed Williams to represent herself without a valid waiver of the right to counsel, the court found that the trial court denied Williams her right to trial counsel. In addition, the court stated that Williams’ failure to request the assistance of counsel at trial did not forfeit her right to counsel. The court concluded that Williams’ trial was rendered fundamentally unfair and unreliable, because she was denied the right to appointed counsel. The application of a harmless error analysis is therefore not appropriate, the court stated, and prejudice is presumed. OPINION:Keasler, J., delivered the opinion of the court in which Keller, P.J., and Meyers, Price, Johnson, Hervey, Holcomb and Cochran, JJ., joined. Womack, J., did not participate.

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