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United States v. Midgett

342 F.3d 321 (2003)

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United States v. Midgett

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

342 F.3d 321 (2003)

Facts

Paul Midgett (defendant) and Theresa Russell were charged with assaulting and robbing J. W. Shaw. Midgett claimed that a third person had driven Midgett and Russell to Shaw and that this third person had committed the assault while Midgett was passed out in the car. However, Midgett would not give his lawyer the third person’s name or any other evidence to corroborate this version of events. Believing that Midgett’s proposed testimony about this third person was false, the lawyer would not allow Midgett to testify. Because the lawyer and Midgett could not agree about whether to offer Midgett’s testimony at trial, the lawyer repeatedly asked the trial court for permission to withdraw as Midgett’s counsel. The court ruled that because it seemed as though Midgett was planning to provide false testimony, Midgett had to choose between (1) having a lawyer and not testifying or (2) representing himself and testifying. Midgett said that he could not proceed without a lawyer and never testified at the trial. Midgett was convicted and appealed. On appeal, Midgett argued that the trial court had erred when it made him choose between his right to counsel and his right to testify on his own behalf.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Traxler, J.)

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