Retrial required when waiver of counsel colloquy failed to inform defendant of the elements of the crimes in the information

Commonwealth v. Clyburn, 2781 EDA 2010, 2/27/2012 (12 pages)

Ms. Clyburn was charged with and convicted of various crimes related to stealing funds from a credit union. Before trial she informed the court that she wanted to represent herself. She signed a written colloquy that contained generic warnings of the dangers of proceeding to trial without a lawyer. This was supplemented by an oral colloquy from the prosecutor detailing the penalties she faced if convicted of all of the charges.

Pa.R.Crim.Pro. 121 sets forth all of the requirements for a colloquy preceding a valid waiver of counsel. In this case, the colloquy failed to include the requirement set forth in Rule 121(A)(2)(b) that the elements of the charges be recited to the defendant.  The failure to meet this requirement meant that Ms. Clyburn’s waiver of counsel was neither knowing, voluntary or intelligent, and thus the matter was remanded for a new trial.

The case can be found here.

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