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People v. Daniels

Supreme Court of California

August 31, 2017

THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
DAVID SCOTT DANIELS, Defendant and Appellant.

         Superior Court Sacramento County No. 99F10432, James L. Long Judge.

          Michael J. Hersek, State Public Defender, under appointment by the Supreme Court, Gail R. Weinheimer, Kate LaGrande Chatfield and Gary D. Garcia, Deputy State Public Defenders, for Defendant and Appellant.

          Kamala D. Harris and Xavier Becerra, Attorneys General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Michael P. Farrell, Assistant Attorney General, Ward A. Campbell, Stephanie A. Mitchell, Sean M. McCoy, Larenda R. Delaini and Christopher J. Rench, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

         THE COURT.[*]

         On January 8, 2000, defendant David Scott Daniels pleaded guilty to 11 counts of robbery (Pen. Code, § 211; all undesignated statutory references are to the Penal Code), one count of carjacking (§ 215, subd. (a)), and one count of vehicle theft (Veh. Code, § 10851). He admitted enhancements for the personal use of a firearm (former § 12022.53, subd. (b)) as to the robbery and carjacking counts, and further admitted that he had suffered two prior strike convictions within the meaning of the “Three Strikes Law” (§§ 667, subds. (b)-(i), 1170.12).

         On January 19, 2001, Daniels was convicted by court trial of the first degree murder of LeWayne Carolina (§§ 187, 189); the second degree murder of LaTanya McCoy (§ 187); deliberate and premeditated attempted murder of Tamarra Hillian (§§ 664, 187); attempted robbery (§§ 664, 211); first degree robbery (§ 211); residential burglary (§ 459); and evading arrest causing serious bodily injury (Veh. Code, § 2800.3). The court found true special-circumstance allegations that the murder of LeWayne Carolina occurred while Daniels was engaged in the commission of robbery and burglary (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(17)), and found true a multiple-murder special-circumstance allegation (§ 190.2, subd. (a)(3)). It also found true various allegations for personally discharging a firearm causing great bodily injury (former § 12022.53, subd. (d)), personally using a firearm (former § 12022.53, subd. (b)), and personally inflicting great bodily injury (former § 12022.7, subd. (a)).

         On January 31, 2001, the court imposed the death penalty and an indeterminate term of life without the possibility of parole for 45 years, consecutive to an indeterminate sentence of 441 years to life, to be served consecutively following a determinate term of 125 years. The court subsequently heard and denied Daniels's automatic application for a new trial and modification of death sentence. This appeal is automatic. (§ 1239, subd. (b).)

         Based on the opinions that follow, the judgment of death is reversed because Daniels's waiver of his right to jury trial on penalty was invalid. The sentence of death in connection with the conviction of second degree murder (count 21) is vacated as unauthorized, and the superior court is directed to issue an amended judgment as to this conviction reflecting the appropriate sentence of 15 years to life. The judgment in all other respects is affirmed, including the judgment of guilt as to all counts tried, the true findings of special circumstances, and all convictions entered by way of guilty plea. The case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

         The lead opinion of Justice Cuéllar, joined by Justice Werdegar and Justice Liu, expresses the opinion of the entire court on all issues except part II.D (Knowing and Intelligent Waiver of the Right to Jury Trial). Justice Liu writes a concurrence to the lead opinion, which Justice Cuéllar signs. Justice Corrigan dissents from part II.D of the lead opinion in an opinion joined by Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and Justice Chin. Justice Kruger issues an opinion concurring in part with, and dissenting in part from, part II.D of the lead opinion.

          LEAD OPINION BY CUÉLLAR, J., CONCURRING AND DISSENTING IN THE JUDGMENT OF THE COURT

         The jury lies at the heart of California's criminal justice system and its capital sentencing scheme. Despite the costs and practical burdens associated with juries, the federal Constitution requires safeguards “[t]o protect against inappropriate incursions” on a defendant's exercise or waiver of the fundamental right to a trial by a jury of his or her peers. (People v. Collins (2001) 26 Cal.4th 297, 307 (Collins).) Our state Constitution proclaims that “[t]rial by jury is an inviolate right and shall be secured to all.” (Cal. Const., art. I, § 16.) And California statutes afford capital defendants the right to a jury trial not only with respect to adjudication of guilt or innocence, but also with respect to determinations regarding special circumstance allegations and the decision to impose the death penalty. (See Pen. Code, § 190.4, subds. (a), (b); all further unmarked statutory references are to the Penal Code.)

         A criminal defendant is permitted to waive his or her jury trial rights -- but only if the record demonstrates the waivers are express, voluntary, knowing, and intelligent. (Collins, supra, 26 Cal.4th at p. 305.) That proves to be a problem in this case. We, the undersigned, cannot conclude that defendant David Scott Daniels's waivers of jury trial were knowing and intelligent, in compliance with constitutional requirements. That this error results in unquantifiable prejudice is the reason we would reverse Daniels's guilt convictions, the true findings of special circumstances, and the penalty of death. Our view on this issue, however, does not today command a majority of the court. Thus, we concur in the court's reversal of the penalty of death, while we dissent from the judgment to affirm Daniels's trial convictions and special-circumstance findings.

         Because the court reverses the judgment of death, we need not address Daniels's claims challenging specific aspects of his trial relating to his death sentence, or California's death penalty scheme more generally. We analyze Daniels's remaining claims only to the extent they seek to attack his convictions or the special-circumstance determinations. With the exception of Daniels's claim maintaining that his jury trial waiver was invalid, discussed in part II.D, the court unanimously agrees with the reasoning and resolution of Daniels's claims examined below.

         I. FACTS

         A. Guilt Phase Evidence

         The People presented the following evidence during the guilt phase of trial. Daniels did not present any guilt phase evidence or argument.

         1. Armed Robberies and Carjacking

         From November 26 through December 27, 1999, Daniels committed several armed robberies of businesses in Sacramento. The robberies proceeded in substantially the same fashion: Daniels would enter a bank or store, pull out a firearm or insinuate that he had a firearm, and demand money from the cash register. On one occasion, Daniels led a customer and a clerk to the back of the store, took $25 from the customer's wallet, and bound the customer's and clerk's necks and faces with cable wire before taking $1, 000 dollars from the store's cash register.

         On January 1, 2000, Daniels approached Gabriel Tover and Lisa Lovado outside a Blockbuster Video in Stockton, holding what looked to be a machine gun or an Uzi. Daniels pointed his firearm at Tover and demanded the keys to a silver 1995 Chevrolet Camaro; Tover obliged. After also taking Lovado's purse and Tover's wallet, Daniels got into the car and drove off.

         In connection with these and similar incidents, Daniels pleaded guilty on January 8, 2001, to 11 counts of armed robbery with use of a firearm, one count of carjacking with use of a firearm, and one count of vehicle theft. In addition, Daniels admitted he had suffered two prior strike convictions within the meaning of the Three Strikes Law (§§ 667, subds. (b)-(i), 1170.12).

         2. LeWayne Carolina Homicide

         Jennifer O'Neal and Daniels were dating and had known each other about four years. At approximately 6:30 p.m. on December 28, 1999, Daniels picked up O'Neal and O'Neal's eight-year-old daughter in his car. O'Neal noticed that Daniels had, under his clothing, a Tec-9 firearm tied around his neck with a shoelace. Daniels told O'Neal he needed the firearm for protection, explaining that he was “on the run” and not going back to prison.

         Around 8:00 p.m., Daniels, O'Neal, and O'Neal's daughter went to the Ramada Inn on Auburn Boulevard, where O'Neal rented a room. Daniels made a phone call in the lobby, as well as some calls in the hotel room. Daniels smoked three cocaine cigarettes between approximately 8:00 and 9:30 p.m. Daniels, O'Neal, and O'Neal's daughter left the hotel together by car.

         They picked up a woman named Marcie, then drove to Martina Daniels's house in South Sacramento where they picked up Martina and her friend Lamar. Lamar recommended a place where Daniels could buy illegal drugs. Daniels drove the car and its passengers to an apartment complex on Mack Road. He seemed “very high” and “very hyper.” His driving was “okay, a little fast, but he was driving normally.” When they arrived at the Stonegate apartment complex, Daniels indicated he would be right back, and both he and Lamar exited the car. O'Neal described Daniels's demeanor as “very aggressive” and observed that “he was not in a normal state of mind. He was not rationally thinking.” Martina, Marcie, O'Neal, and O'Neal's daughter waited in the car.

         Around 9:00 p.m. that same evening, Tamarra Hillian arrived to visit Ray Jedkins, a friend of hers from high school, at Jedkins's apartment. Jedkins's cousin, LeWayne Carolina, was also at the apartment. As Hillian sat in the apartment living room watching television, there was a knock at the door. Jedkins answered the door and spoke with Daniels, who was standing outside, for “a little while” before Jedkins let Daniels inside. Daniels and Jedkins walked into the kitchen and chatted with Carolina before Jedkins returned to the living room. A few minutes later, Daniels walked into the living room and demanded money while pointing a large firearm in Jedkins's direction. Jedkins handed Daniels a wad of money from his pocket. Then, Hillian heard gunshots and covered her face. Jedkins climbed out the living room window. After the gunshots stopped, Daniels ran out of the apartment. Hillian never saw Daniels point the gun at her or Carolina.

         After Daniels fled the apartment, Hillian tried to stand up, but her leg crumpled and she fell to the floor. She had been shot in the hand and in the leg. She crawled to the kitchen telephone and saw that Carolina had been fatally shot. As Hillian attempted to dial for help, Jedkins returned to the apartment and called 911. Sacramento police officers later arrived at the Stonegate apartment complex and collected nine-millimeter and.380 bullet casings from the scene. Forensic pathologist Dr. Gregory Reiber, who performed the autopsy of Carolina, testified that Carolina suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the head and a superficial graze wound on the left side of his back. No soot or gunpowder was found on Carolina's head, indicating that the fatal gunshot was fired from a distance greater than 12 to 18 inches.

         About 10 minutes after the group had arrived at the apartment complex, Lamar returned alone to the car. He appeared scared and looked as though he was praying. Daniels returned to the car soon after, holding his left side and gasping for air. Daniels told O'Neal, “I've been shot. That guy shot me.” Daniels drove the car away from the apartment complex and back to Martina's house, swerving while appearing to nod off. At Martina's house, O'Neal and the other adults attempted to treat Daniels's bullet wounds on his left arm and left side near his back. Martina saw that Daniels had a gun, one she would identify in court as similar to the nine-millimeter gun found on Daniels at his arrest.

         Martina drove Daniels, O'Neal, and O'Neal's daughter back to the Ramada Inn. In the hotel room, Daniels told O'Neal that there were three other men and a woman in the Stonegate apartment. He said a man in the kitchen started shooting, and Daniels had returned fire. Daniels told O'Neal he shot the woman, who had been yelling, and also shot the man sitting on the couch. He said “he would not be taken alive” by law enforcement. While relaying his account of events, Daniels smoked a cocaine cigarette. Martina observed a smaller gun on the dresser, which Daniels explained he got from the man who shot him in the apartment.

         3. LaTanya McCoy Homicide

         On December 30, 1999, local law enforcement authorities issued an arrest warrant for Daniels for the murder of LeWayne Carolina. On the morning of January 2, 2000, Sacramento Police Detective Michael Kaye was conducting surveillance in front of Martina's house. Around 6:00 a.m., Daniels drove a silver Chevrolet Camaro down the street, making unusual maneuvers before he paused in front of the residence. When the Camaro pulled away, Kaye followed in pursuit. Kaye broadcasted the Camaro's direction of travel to responding patrol units.

         Officer Shaunda Davis of the Sacramento Police Department was on patrol, positioned on a nearby road. She activated the patrol car's overhead lights, as did officers in another patrol car, in anticipation of a felony vehicle stop. Daniels initially pulled over, but then drove off at a high speed before the officers could position themselves for a vehicle stop. Fog limited visibility. Police dispatchers were advised that Daniels's car was traveling on Mack Road at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. Daniels's car weaved in and out of traffic. After passing the intersection of Mack Road and Franklin Boulevard, Daniels's Camaro collided with another car at a minimum of 80 miles per hour. The other car spun across the embankment that divided the roadway and burst into flames. Davis unsuccessfully attempted to remove the driver, LaTanya McCoy, from the burning car. The fire killed McCoy and burned her entire body.

         The Camaro veered off the road and eventually stopped. Shortly thereafter, several Sacramento City police officers arrived at the scene. Officer Brian Ellis advised Daniels to put up his hands outside of the vehicle. Daniels raised his left hand but claimed his right hand was stuck. As Sergeant Steven Weinrich reached into the Camaro to extract Daniels, Daniels fired his Tec-9 firearm. Weinrich returned fire and was shot as he retreated behind the car. One bullet was later found lodged in Weinrich's bulletproof vest, while another bullet entered his upper thigh.

         B. Penalty Phase Evidence

         1. Prior Statements by Daniels

         The penalty trial commenced on January 23, 2001. The prosecution began its case by introducing statements made by Daniels on January 19, 2000, in which he threatened officers while hospitalized in the surgical intensive care unit. The prosecutor argued that these statements constituted an uncharged violation of section 69 (obstructing or resisting an officer by means of threat or violence).

         Sacramento County Sheriff's deputies testified regarding two confiscated letters written by Daniels while in jail in April and June of 2000. In one six-page letter addressed to a woman named Nikki, Daniels stated that he felt responsible for McCoy's death and wished that he had died instead of McCoy. He also wished he had “killed every last one” of the police officers he shot. Daniels wrote he was not afraid to die and preferred death to life in prison. He stated he knew he would get caught and “that's why [he] robbed every bank an [sic] store in sight.” Included with an 11-page letter from Daniels to his aunt was a printout labeled “Daniels Investigation Time Line, ” which contained admissions and details of crimes committed between November 16, 1999, and January 1, 2000. The listed offenses included 6 bank robberies, 17 robberies, 2 carjackings, and a shootout with the Turlock Police Department.

         2. Prior Convictions

         During the guilt phase, Daniels admitted to two prior felony convictions: a January 1986 felony conviction for attempted first degree burglary (§§ 664, 459) and a July 1991 felony robbery conviction (§ 212.5). Daniels understood that those prior pleas could be relevant, admissible evidence for penalty purposes.

         At the penalty phase, the prosecution introduced certified copies of three prior convictions: a March 1988 felony conviction for possession of a controlled substance (Health & Saf. Code, § 11350); an October 1990 felony conviction for sale of a controlled substance (Health & Saf. Code, § 11352); and a February 1998 felony conviction for second degree burglary (§ 459). Daniels acknowledged he had seen copies of these prior convictions.

         3. Uncharged Crimes

         The prosecution introduced evidence of several uncharged crimes that occurred in December 1999. Specifically, the prosecution elicited a bank teller's testimony regarding Daniels's armed robbery of the Washington Mutual Bank in Stockton on December 11, 1999, and his departure from the bank with about $6, 000 in stolen cash. In addition, business proprietor Vorn Chan and his daughter Junda Chan testified about an armed robbery of Lim's Market in Stockton on December 22, 1999, during which a man took money from the cash register and Vorn's personal effects before driving off in a Toyota pickup owned by Vorn's son-in-law. Neither Vorn nor Junda identified Daniels as the perpetrator of the robbery, but Daniels indicated that he committed a crime at Lim's Market in the printout he had included in the letter to his aunt.

         Witnesses testified that on December 30, 1999, Daniels was driving with an unidentified female on the J14 highway in Merced County. After driving off the roadway at a high speed, he exited his car in a daze and appeared “really loopy” and “spaced out.” Shantel Little stopped to help. After Daniels approached her with a firearm, Little exited her white Camaro. Daniels and his female passenger entered the Camaro and drove away.

         Deputy Sheriff Mark Goddard, who was advised by dispatch of the carjacking, observed Daniels in the Camaro and pulled him over. But once Goddard pulled in from behind, Daniels took off, weaving through traffic at speeds up to 80 miles per hour. Officers from the Turlock Police Department pursued the Camaro until Daniels collided with another car while driving 55 to 60 miles per hour. Daniels got out of the Camaro and fired approximately four to six gunshot rounds at the officers. He then fled on foot while the injured female passenger was arrested. Officers collected discharged shell casings from the scene and later concluded that the casings had been fired from Daniels's Tec-9 firearm.

         Jose Campos testified that on the evening of December 30, 1999, Daniels walked into the garage of Campos's home in Turlock with a firearm and asked Campos for his car keys. Campos retrieved his keys from within the house, gave them to Daniels, and returned to his house. When Campos reentered the garage, his car was gone.

         4. Statement of Apology

         Daniels declined to present evidence or deliver a closing argument during the penalty phase trial. He did, however, offer a lengthy apology -- expressing deep remorse and sadness -- to the Carolina and McCoy families. Daniels stated that he had “no intention on doing anything” to Carolina. He spoke of being a father to four boys, and apologized in particular to Carolina's father. He “accept[ed] some responsibility for that accident” that killed McCoy. The chance to apologize to the families, he said, “means a lot to me, and I have to live with this for the rest of my life.” He also noted that “it took a long time for me to really prepare myself to say this” to the family members. The court would later identify Daniels's statement as potentially mitigating evidence, stating, “During the penalty phase, Mr. Daniels addressed the families of the victims. At that time, Mr. Daniels did express some remorse for his actions and took some responsibility for the crimes. These facts may constitute a mitigating factor.”

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Knowing and Intelligent Waiver of the Right to Counsel

         Daniels contends that the record does not reflect a valid waiver of the right to counsel. To wit, he argues that the court did not adequately advise him of the complexities of a capital trial, made no meaningful inquiry into his understanding of the charges and possible defenses, and ignored his comment that he did not view self-representation as a disadvantage. We reject this claim.

         1. Background

         At a court proceeding on April 28, 2000, Daniels asked to speak to the judge. Judge Ransom told Daniels that he had to speak through his lawyer. Daniels responded, “I'm not agreeing with nothing that's going on. I'm not agreeing with nothing that's going on here - I'm not agreeing with nothing that's going on here.” The proceeding terminated without further discussion.

         In a letter dated December 7, 2000, Daniels advised the court, “I am Respectfully Requesting that I be allowed to withdraw my ‘Not Guilty' Plea and enter a ‘Guilty Plea.' I am also Requesting that I Be allowed to Represent myself, my feretta [sic] Rights. I fully understand that I am charged with the Capitol [sic] offense of Murder penal code Section 187 with the special circumstances.”

         About two weeks later, on December 20, 2000, Judge Ransom engaged Daniels in a colloquy regarding the benefits of counsel and the drawbacks of self-representation. In response to the court's questioning, Daniels indicated that he knew he had the right to counsel at all stages of the case, he understood that self-representation is “generally not a wise choice” in criminal matters, and he would face the death penalty if convicted. Further, Daniels acknowledged that the court would not help him present his case or grant him special treatment, he was being opposed by a trained prosecutor, he would be required to comply with all rules of criminal procedure and evidence, he would forfeit a potential ineffective assistance of counsel claim on appeal, he would be removed from the courtroom if he were disruptive, and he had a right to hire his own attorney at any time but the court would not delay proceedings to accommodate attorney preparation. In response to the court's questioning, Daniels informed the court that he had a high school education and could read and write. He then stated, “I want to exercise my Faretta” and reiterated his wish to represent himself. The court then expressed that it was “satisfied he's doing this knowingly and intelligently, ” and granted the motion for self-representation. Later that day, Daniels signed a “Record of Faretta Warnings” form, acknowledging that he had been personally advised of various rights which had been discussed during the oral colloquy. Daniels rejected the court's offer to appoint advisory counsel.

         The case was subsequently assigned, for all purposes, to Judge Long. At the outset of proceedings on January 5, 2001, Judge Long confirmed that Daniels was representing himself and that Judge Ransom had advised him of the pitfalls of self-representation. Daniels then acknowledged that he had received the amended information in this case. Thereafter, Judge Long arraigned Daniels on the amended information, reading aloud each of the 22 charges and the sentencing enhancements. After reading each charge, the court asked, “Do you understand the charges?” Daniels responded affirmatively as to each charge. While arraigning Daniels on counts 12 and 21, the special-circumstance murder counts, Judge Long informed him that these were serious felonies. The court explained that, as to these charges, if Daniels were found guilty of these charges, the case would proceed to a penalty phase where the People would seek the death penalty. Daniels said he understood. After the court finished reading all the charges, the following colloquy transpired:

         “THE COURT: Sir, did you understand all those charges?

         “MR. DANIELS: Yes, sir.

         “THE COURT: Are there any questions you need to ask me relating solely to the nature of the charges that the People of the State of California have filed against you?

         “MR. DANIELS: No, sir.”

         Thereafter, by asking a series of yes or no questions, Judge Long warned Daniels about the dangers of self-representation. Despite the fact that the judge informed Daniels that the prosecutor in this case was “one of the experts in this county in prosecuting” death penalty cases, Daniels expressed his desire to continue self-representation. During this colloquy, the following exchange occurred:

         “THE COURT: You understand that these are very, very serious matters and that whatever your legal training is and I don't know what it is, I'm going to get into that, that you, sir, are placing yourself at a severe disadvantage? Do you understand that?

         “MR. DANIELS: Yes, your Honor. I don't look at it as a disadvantage.

         “THE COURT: You do not look at it as a disadvantage?

         “MR. DANIELS: No.

         “THE COURT: All right....”

         Judge Long reminded Daniels that he would be held to the standards of a lawyer, the court could not assist him in any way, the consequences of self-representation were “enormous” in this case, it is “never wise” for an unskilled person to represent himself, and that “it is said that he who represents himself is a fool.” Judge Long asked Daniels if he understood that “it could get so bad in here based upon your lack of skill and you may have skill, that if this were a professional [sporting] event in the legal sense, it might be like a flag football team going up against the Tennessee Titans?” Daniels responded, “I hear you.” Daniels stated he understood that he would not be able to raise the issue of counsel's competence on appeal.

         As part of his analysis of Daniels's decision to exercise his right to self-representation, Judge Long made several inquiries about Daniels's mental state that day. Daniels responded that he was thinking clearly, he knew what he was doing, he was taking Neurontin for nerve damage in his hand but the medication was not interfering with his choice to represent himself, and that he was not under the effect of any substance that would cloud his judgment. In response to the court's questioning, Daniels stated that he was 33 years old, could read and write, had graduated from high school, and had been employed “off and on” as a mailroom clerk - a job which required reading and understanding documents. He also stated that no threats had been made against him or his family members in connection with his decision, nor had he been subject to any force or pressure influencing him to represent himself. When the court asked Daniels to state, in his own words, the potential penalty he would be facing if found guilty and the special circumstances found true, Daniels replied, “I could be put to death.” This exchange followed:

         “THE COURT: Are there other areas that you think I need to explore at this time? Oh, and further, if you did want a lawyer, do you understand that I would appoint a lawyer for you and give you what additional time you need to prepare for this trial? Do you understand that?

         “MR. DANIELS: Yes, I do.

         “THE COURT: And even with that offer, you still want to represent yourself and proceed to trial?

         “MR. DANIELS: Yes, your Honor.”

         Daniels again declined advisory counsel. Following a 15-minute recess for Daniels to reflect on his decision, the court concluded its advisements and ruled on Daniels's Faretta motion:

         “THE COURT: All right. We are again on the record. Mr. Daniels, have you had an opportunity to think about, you know, the colloquy we have gone through relative to you representing yourself?

         “MR. DANIELS: Yes.

         “THE COURT: Now, let me ask you this: You have told me that you understand the nature of all these charges and what could happen to you, right?

         “MR. DANIELS: Yes, I understand.

         “THE COURT: And if you wish to present a defense, that is kind of like up to you, but if you wish to do that, your mind is clear and your thoughts and you understand the charges where if you wish to do that, you feel you could do that?

         “MR. DANIELS: Yes, I do.

         “THE COURT: You do?

         “MR. DANIELS: Yes, I do.

         “THE COURT: All right. Is there anything else?

         “[THE PROSECUTOR]: No, your Honor, not on that issue.

         “THE COURT: All right. The Court makes findings as follows: One, the defendant, Mr. Daniels, is competent, he understands the nature of the charges, he understands and represents that his mind is clear whereby if he wished to present a defense, he would know how to do that to these charges. [¶] The Court also finds that Mr. Daniels understands and is aware of the risk and dangers of representing himself, and I further find that he is waiving his right to a lawyer and proceeding to trial by way of self-representation. And I find that this choice for him to represent himself is done knowingly, freely, and intelligently, and without any force or coercion. The Court then will grant you your right to represent yourself.”

         Daniels signed a record of Faretta warnings in open court and affirmed that he understood the warnings contained in the document.

         2. Analysis

         Daniels argues the court failed to meaningfully inquire into his understanding of the charges. The record contains no indication that Daniels ever discussed the risks of self-representation with counsel. Daniels asserts that neither Judge Ransom nor Judge Long inquired as to Daniels's legal experience or informed him of the complexities of trial. Further, Judge Long did not address Daniels's statement that he did not view self-representation to be disadvantageous.

         As established by the high court in Faretta, a defendant has a federal constitutional right to the assistance of counsel during all critical stages of a criminal prosecution. (Faretta v. California (1975) 422 U.S. 806, 807 (Faretta); United States v. Wade (1967) 388 U.S. 218, 223-227.) A defendant may nonetheless waive this right and personally represent himself or herself, as long as the defendant's waiver of the right to counsel is valid. An effective waiver requires that the defendant possess the mental capacity to comprehend the nature and object of the proceedings against him or her, and waive the right knowingly and voluntarily. (People v. Koontz (2002) 27 Cal.4th 1041, 1069 (Koontz); Godinez v. Moran (1993) 509 U.S. 389, 401, fn. 12.) There is no prescribed script or admonition that trial courts must use to warn a defendant of the perils of self-representation. But the record as a whole must establish that the defendant understood the “dangers and disadvantages” of waiving the right to counsel, including the risks and intricacies of the case. (People v. Blair (2005) 36 Cal.4th 686, 708; People v. Burgener (2009) 46 Cal.4th 231, 241.) If a defendant validly waives the right to counsel, a trial court must grant the request for self-representation. (People v. Welch (1999) 20 Cal.4th 701, 729.) We review a Faretta waiver de novo, examining the entire record to determine the validity of a defendant's waiver. (Koontz, at p. 1070.)

         In determining the validity of a trial court's decision to permit the exercise of a defendant's Faretta right, we have treated the suggested advisements and inquiries set forth in People v. Lopez (1977) 71 Cal.App.3d 568 (Lopez) as a useful reference for courts to ensure the knowing and voluntary waiver of counsel. (Koontz, supra, 27 Cal.4th at pp. 1070-1073.) Lopez suggests the court provide advisements falling into three general categories: (1) ensuring the defendant's awareness of the “ ‘dangers and disadvantages' ” associated with self-representation; (2) inquiring into the defendant's intellectual capacity; and (3) informing the defendant that he or she cannot later claim inadequacy of representation. (Lopez, at pp. 572-574.) Here, the record demonstrates that Daniels was - orally and in writing - sufficiently advised of the benefits of counsel and warned about the pitfalls of self-representation in accordance with Lopez's guidance.

         First, Daniels was made thoroughly aware of the “ ‘dangers and disadvantages of self-representation.' ” (Lopez, supra, 71 Cal.App.3d at p. 572.) The court advised him that it is “never wise” for an unskilled person to represent oneself. The court also told him that it would not grant him any special treatment, and he would be subject to the same standards expected of an attorney. Judge Ransom and Judge Long both emphasized to Daniels that he would be opposed by a trained prosecutor, whom Judge Long described as “one of the experts in this county in prosecuting [death penalty] cases.” Judge Long analogized the expected disparity in lawyering skills to “a flag football team going up against the Tennessee Titans.” Daniels signed a “Record of Faretta Warnings” form, attesting that he had been advised of the court's oral admonitions - including that he had the right to counsel at all stages of the case; it is generally “not a wise choice” to represent oneself in a criminal matter; he would not receive any special treatment from the court; and he would be required to comply with all rules of criminal procedure and evidence just like an attorney would. Finally, Daniels was twice provided a form explaining his library privileges as a self-represented inmate. Daniels orally acknowledged that he had read and considered the court order regarding in propria persona privileges. The record reveals that the court amply advised Daniels of the dangers and disadvantages of self-representation.

         Second, the court conducted an inquiry into Daniels's intellectual capacity, as recommended in Lopez. Both Judge Ransom and Judge Long asked about Daniels's education level. Daniels stated that he had a high school education and could read and write. He told the court that he had previously been employed “off and on” as a mailroom clerk, a job which required that he read and understand documents. The court also ensured that Daniels was made aware of his right to counsel. (See Lopez, supra, 71 Cal.App.3d at p. 573.) Specifically, Daniels was informed of his right to appointed counsel, if he could not afford his own, throughout the entirety of proceedings. Daniels rejected the court's multiple offers to appoint advisory counsel and a defense investigator, and he later confirmed that he did not desire such assistance.

         The court read aloud all 22 charges from the amended information and confirmed, after each offense, that Daniels understood the charge just read. Daniels acknowledged that he could be put to death if he were found guilty and the special circumstances found true. Daniels was informed that if he were disruptive, he would be removed from the courtroom and an attorney would be brought in to complete the case on his behalf. We reject Daniels's argument that the court's inquiry was inadequate because it did not review the elements of the charges, possible defenses, or possible punishments besides the death penalty - or confirm that counsel had done so with Daniels. Although an “exploration into... possible defenses and possible punishments” may be useful to help a defendant understand “just what he is getting himself into” (Lopez, supra, 71 Cal.App.3d at p. 573), it is not required for a knowing and intelligent waiver of counsel under Faretta. (See also People v. Riggs (2008) 44 Cal.4th 248, 277 [“The trial court is not required to ensure that the defendant is aware of legal concepts such as the various burdens of proof, the rules of evidence, or the fact that the pursuit of one avenue of defense might foreclose another....”]; People v. Joseph (1983) 34 Cal.3d 936, 939-944 [less extensive colloquy in capital case revealed that waiver was knowing and intelligent, rendering denial of self-representation request reversible error].) Further, Daniels told the court that he understood the nature of all the charges against him. Daniels's waiver was not defective simply because the court did not define offense elements, such as premeditation or malice aforethought, or review potential defenses.

         Despite the absence of direct questions by Judge Ransom about Daniels's mental competence, Daniels points to nothing in the record that would have raised a question about his competence. (See Lopez, supra, 71 Cal.App.3d at p. 573 [“If there is any question in the court's mind as to a defendant's mental capacity... a rather careful inquiry into that subject should be made” (italics added)].) Moreover, Judge Long did inquire about Daniels's present mental health and whether Daniels was “thinking clearly.” In response to questioning, Daniels indicated that he was thinking clearly, knew what he was doing, and was not under the effect of any substance that would cloud his judgment. The court made an express finding that Daniels was competent to waive his right to counsel. The record as a whole supports the court's conclusion.

         Daniels stated that he did not view self-representation as a disadvantage. “All right, ” replied the court, without asking why Daniels felt this way. If Daniels's statement had conveyed some understanding that his waiver of counsel was conditional, the court would have been obligated to accept the condition or else deem the waiver ineffective. (See People v. Carter (1967) 66 Cal.2d 666, 670 [“waiver of counsel which is made conditional by a defendant cannot be effective unless the condition is accepted by the court”].) But Daniels's statement does not divulge a conditional waiver, such as one contingent upon the receipt of some undisclosed benefit. In light of the court's admonitions, Daniels's statement at most reflects his personal preference to control his own defense - which, no matter how ill-advised, he was entitled to do under Faretta. (See Faretta, supra, 422 U.S. at p. 834 [“the defendant... must be free personally to decide whether in his particular case counsel is to his advantage”].) Accordingly, Daniels fails to persuade that the court had a duty to clarify what Daniels meant, or else invalidate the waiver.

         Third, Daniels was informed by both Judge Ransom and Judge Long that, if he chose to represent himself, he could not later claim inadequacy of representation. (See Koontz, supra, 27 Cal.4th at p. 1071, citing Lopez, supra, 71 Cal.App.3d at p. 574.)

         Daniels also raises an argument unrelated to the sufficiency of the court's admonitions. He insists that, because his written request to represent himself was coupled with a request to plead guilty, it should have been apparent to the court that Daniels was trying to circumvent the statutory limitation on his ability to plead guilty. Daniels argues that the court should have sua sponte appointed additional counsel or determined whether Daniels was able to negotiate a plea that would not have subjected him to the death penalty. We are not aware of any binding authority - nor has Daniels identified any - that would have required the court to take such action. There is no dispute that Daniels's express waiver of counsel was voluntary. Considering the record as a whole, we conclude that Daniels's counsel waiver was also knowing and intelligent, and therefore valid.

         B. Self-Representation in Violation of Section 1018 and the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments

         Representing himself, Daniels expressly waived the right to a trial by jury. At trial, he did not present any evidence or argument, did not raise any objections, and did not conduct cross-examination. Daniels argues that his actions at trial were tantamount to a guilty plea in violation of section 1018, and that the proceedings were insufficiently reliable so as to violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. He seeks reversal of the murder convictions and the special-circumstance findings. For reasons elucidated below, this claim is one we reject.

         1. Background

         At a court appearance on April 28, 2000, Daniels asked to speak with the judge. Judge Ransom informed Daniels that he would need to speak through his lawyer. In response, Daniels stated, “I'm not agreeing with nothing that's going on. I'm not agreeing with nothing that's going on here - I'm not agreeing with nothing that's going on here.”

         On August 7, 2000, at a proceeding to set a date for Daniels's preliminary hearing, Daniels told Judge Ransom that he wished to plead guilty. Daniels's counsel confirmed that Daniels was facing the death penalty for these charges. The court informed Daniels that he was not permitted to plead guilty without his counsel's consent; the court then entered Daniels's plea of not guilty.

         On August 23, 2000, in response to the court's request that Daniels waive his right to a continuous preliminary hearing so that the court could start later the next day, Daniels told the court, “[I'm] willing to waive all my rights... and go no further in the matter.” The next day, after Daniels was held to answer, he repeated his desire to plead guilty. The court asked counsel if, “in light of the seriousness of the offense, ” he wished to enter pleas of not guilty and denials of enhancements on behalf of Daniels; counsel replied in the affirmative. At Daniels's arraignment a week later, the court refused Daniels's request to address the court in private after the court asked Daniels whether he wanted counsel.

         In a letter dated December 7, 2000, Daniels wrote to Judge Ransom: “I am Respectfully Requesting that I be allowed to withdraw my ‘Not Guilty' Plea and enter a ‘Guilty Plea.' I am also Requesting that I Be allowed to Represent myself, my feretta [sic] Rights. I fully understand that I am charged with the Capitol [sic] offense of Murder penal code Section 187 with the special circumstances.” He enclosed a partially completed fill-in-the-blank Faretta motion form. On December 20, 2000, the court granted Daniels's request to represent ...


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