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DEON TURNER v. STATE OF MARYLAND

Criminal procedure — Right to counsel — Waiver

After firing his public defender appellant, Deon Turner, asked the Circuit Court for Talbot County to appoint counsel for him. It did. After a few weeks, counsel filed a written motion to withdraw his representation citing Turner’s lack of cooperation in communicating with counsel and not appearing for court. After a hearing, the court granted counsel’s request, allowed counsel to withdraw, and declined to appoint another attorney for Turner. After a bench trial, in which Turner represented himself, the court convicted Turner of: Count 1 (possession with intent to distribute oxycodone); Count 2 (possession of oxycodone); Count 3 (possession of oxycodone without a prescription with intent to distribute); and Counts 4 and 5 (possession of different kinds of drug paraphernalia). The court sentenced Turner to six years’ incarceration on Count 1 and three concurrent 110- day sentences on Counts 2, 4, and 5. Count 3 merged at sentencing. Turner filed a timely appeal and poses the following question, which we reproduce verbatim: Did the trial court improperly deny Appellant his right to counsel by erroneously granting defense counsel’s motion to strike his appearance and not appointing new counsel and implicitly find that Appellant had waived his right to counsel by his conduct in failing to appear for scheduled court proceedings? We answer …

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