James A. Hart, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.
from the Orange Superior Court The Honorable R. Michael
Cloud, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 59D01-1507-CM-680
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Jeffrey K. Branstetter Blanton,
Branstetter & Pierce, LLC Jeffersonville, Indiana
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana James B. Martin Deputy Attorney General
of the Case
James Hart ("Hart") appeals his conviction by jury
of Class A misdemeanor invasion of privacy. Prior to trial,
Hart told the trial court that he did not want
court-appointed counsel, but then he failed to obtain his own
counsel in the months that followed. A week prior to trial,
Hart filed a motion for a continuance, requesting additional
time to obtain counsel. The trial court denied the motion,
and Hart subsequently represented himself at trial. On
appeal, Hart argues that the trial court erred by trying him
without counsel because he did not knowingly, intelligently,
and voluntarily waive his right to counsel. The State argues
that, even though Hart did not verbally waive his right to
counsel, he waived his right through his conduct of failing
to obtain a lawyer in a timely manner. Because we find that
the trial court did not properly advise Hart of the dangers
of representing himself, we agree with Hart that he did not
knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive his right to
counsel verbally or through his conduct. Accordingly, we
reverse Hart's conviction and remand to the trial court
for a new trial.
We reverse and remand.
Hart knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his
right to counsel.
On July 30, 2015, Hart was charged with Class A misdemeanor
invasion of privacy for violating a protective order that
prohibited him from visiting the French Lick Resort, his
wife's place of employment.
On September 14, 2016, the trial court held an initial
hearing on Hart's charge. At the hearing, Hart appeared
and executed a document entitled "Waiver of Appearance
and Written Report of Initial Hearing." (App. 110). The
. . . the Defendant herein is now informed of his/her
constitutional rights, which rights are as follows:
1. To retain counsel, and if he intends to do so he must do
so within . . . [t]en days . . . because there are deadlines
for filing motions and raising defenses, and if those
deadlines are missed the legal issues and ...