appeals the judgment of the Supreme Court, New York County
(Maxwell Wiley, J.), rendered December 18, 2014, convicting
defendant, after a jury trial, of burglary in the second
degree, and imposing sentence.
S. Dean, Center for Appellate Litigation, New York (Matthew
Bova of counsel), for appellant.
R. Vance, Jr., District Attorney, New York (Hope Korenstein
and Alan Gadlin of counsel), for respondent.
Rosalyn H. Richter, J.P., Troy K. Webber, Cynthia S. Kern,
Peter H. Moulton, JJ.
August 28, 2013, at approximately 9:10 p.m., complainant
Lopez returned to her top floor, one bedroom apartment in
upper Manhattan, which she shared with her husband and two
other individuals. When Lopez entered her bedroom, she
encountered a stranger, later identified as defendant,
standing near the bedroom window. Lopez screamed to her
husband that someone was in the apartment. Defendant
retreated out the window and up the fire escape ladder. Lopez
then noticed that her iPad was missing from her bedroom table
and her piggy bank was missing from where she had left it
near the bedroom window.
same time, Police Officer Orlando Corchado and his partner,
Officer Lassen, were on the roof of the building, performing
a vertical patrol, checking every floor and then ascending to
the roof . Corchado was about 6 to 10 feet from
the fire escape when he saw defendant climb up the fire
escape ladder toward the roof. Defendant was wearing latex
gloves and was carrying a white piggy bank in his left hand.
Corchado asked defendant in English why he was there.
Defendant answered in Spanish that he worked for the super.
Ignoring Corchado's further request that he stop,
defendant climbed back down the ladder.
reappeared at Lopez's window, climbed into the bedroom,
and moved through the bedroom toward the apartment's
outer door. Along the way, he handed the piggy bank to
Lopez's husband and said, "I'm sorry, here's
your piggy bank." Moments later, Corchado and Lassen
followed defendant through the window into the Lopez
apartment. Corchado asked Lopez if she knew defendant and if
he worked for the super. Lopez replied that defendant
"was a thief." As Corchado proceeded after
defendant, he saw him - who was in the hallway of the
apartment - reach behind his back and remove an iPad mini
that was stuffed in the back waistband of his jeans.
Defendant appeared about to discard the iPad when one of the
residents of the apartment grabbed it from him. Defendant was
placed under arrest by Corchado. Police Officer Lassen
searched defendant and recovered from his pockets two
flashlights, an iPad charger, a cell phone and latex gloves.
Defendant was transported to the hospital and then to the
precinct. While in a holding cell at the precinct, and before
the administration of his Miranda rights, defendant
stated that he was visiting his girlfriend who resided on the
4th floor of the building, and climbed up the fire escape so
as to avoid being discovered by her husband.
from the beginning of the prosecution, defendant filed
numerous pro se motions, all before the trial court.
Defendant filed cross grand jury notice indicating his desire
to testify before the grand jury. He then filed a motion to
dismiss the indictment based upon the legal insufficiency of
the evidence before the grand jury, specifically his failure
and the failure of his girlfriend to testify before the grand
jury. Defendant also filed two motions for reassignment of
counsel, both of which were granted. Defendant later filed a
motion for a reduction in bail and a motion to dismiss the
indictment on speedy trial grounds.
8, 2014, shortly prior to the commencement of the suppression
hearings, and represented by his third court-appointed
attorney, defendant moved to proceed pro se. He informed the
court that he wished to represent himself because "all
of" his attorneys had "lied" to him.
response to the court's inquiry, defendant stated that he
had never before represented himself; that he had been
represented by counsel in a trial that occurred 13 years
earlier; that the highest level of education he had completed
was the "[f]ourth grade of elementary school"; that
he could not "read any English at all, " and would
require an interpreter to help him read the documents in the
court stated to defendant that representing oneself at trial
was "a very, very bad idea" - which the court
compared to "a doctor treating himself for his own
illness" - and stated that it was "better" for
defendant to allow "a trained person who is not
personally involved in the case" to "look at the
evidence." The court stated that defendant may
"allow emotion and [his] lack of legal training to lead
[him] to make some bad determinations at trial." While
acknowledging that defendant had the right to choose to
represent himself, the court stated "it's a bad
court also stated that if defendant chose to proceed pro se,
he would be required to select a jury which involved knowing
the rules of the court as well as the number of applicable
challenges; decide whether to deliver an opening statement;
question the People's witnesses; and decide without
advice from anyone whether he would testify on his own
behalf. The court informed defendant that neither the court
nor the prosecution could provide him with legal advice. The
court also suggested that defendant's effectiveness might
be hampered because he would have to communicate with the
jury through an interpreter. Finally, the court informed
defendant that he would be required to abide by the
court's rulings, just as any lawyer would, and would not
be permitted to "talk out of turn" or
"interrupt the court." Defendant assured the court
that he understood all requirements.
next court appearance, on May 13, 2014, counsel stated that
he had spoken with defendant the previous day, and that
defendant had given counsel permission to sit at counsel
table and advise him. The court acquiesced and commenced the
suppression hearing. On cross-examination of the People's
first witness, the arresting officer, the court sustained the
People's objection to defendant's very first
question. Defendant then announced that he was "not
going to continue here, " and started to leave the
courtroom. The court stated that while defendant was free to
leave, the hearings and trial would continue without him.
Defendant asserted that the court could not continue without
him because "I'm my own attorney."
further consultation with counsel, counsel informed the court
that defendant had asked him to continue the hearing.
Defendant stated that he would let counsel represent him, but
that if he "[saw] that things are going wrong" he
would not come back to court. The court ...