State v. Henderson
Absent a proffer to the contrary by the defendant, the trial court reasonably relied on the representations of the public defender that the defendant was not indigent and ineligible for appointed counsel, because he had posted large bonds. Exposed to more than 25 years of imprisonment, Daniel Henderson entered nolo contendere pleas to numerous offenses. The trial court found that Henderson was not indigent and, therefore, ineligible for public defender services. Concluding that he waived his right to private counsel and his decision to proceed with a plea agreement was knowing, intelligent and voluntary, the court accepted Henderson's pleas and sentenced him to 54 months imprisonment. The trial court later denied Henderson's motion to correct an illegal sentence claiming that his sentence was imposed without the assistance of counsel in violation of his state and federal constitutional rights. Henderson appealed arguing that the trial court improperly concluded, in accepting his pleas and sentencing him, that he had waived his right to counsel and was not indigent. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment. The record revealed that the defendant did not sustain his burden of proving his indigency. The court reasonably relied on the local public defender's representation that the defendant was not indigent because he had posted $380,000 in bonds and voluntarily elected not to post more to obtain credit for the incarceration he was facing. The hearing transcript revealed that the defendant, who was articulate, willing and capable of expressing his position to the court on a variety of matters, remained silent when asked about the accuracy of the public defender's factual representations. He agreed with the court's statement that he did not qualify for a public defender. His later argument was unavailing asserting that his mother, a surety bail bond agent, posted the bonds on his behalf. No portion of the record indicated that he made the trial court aware of that significant fact prior to the motion to correct hearing. The record also revealed that the defendant's waiver of his right to private counsel and the decision to proceed with the plea agreement, were knowing, intelligent and voluntary. The court's canvass fully complied with Practice Book §44-3. The court offered the defendant ample opportunities to engage counsel and appointed the public defender as standby counsel during the plea canvass.