Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Richardson v. Commonwealth

Court of Appeals of Virginia

March 7, 2017

GREGORY A. RICHARDSON
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

         FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF NOTTOWAY COUNTY Paul W. Cella, Judge

          Joan J. Burroughs (The Law Office of Joan J. Burroughs, PLC, on brief), for appellant.

          Leah A. Darron, Senior Assistant Attorney General (Mark R. Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

          Present: Judges Petty, Russell and Malveaux Argued at Richmond, Virginia.

          OPINION

          MARY BENNETT MALVEAUX JUDGE

         Gregory Richardson ("appellant") refused to participate in the colloquy during his arraignment for felony indecent exposure in the Circuit Court of Nottoway County. The trial court interpreted his silence as both a waiver of his right to be tried by a jury and an acquiescence to being tried by the court. Appellant argues here that the trial court's actions violated his rights under the Constitution of Virginia. We agree.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Appellant resides at the Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation ("VCBR"), to which he was committed for treatment as a sexually violent predator. In March 2015, appellant exposed his genitals to one of VCBR's employees. Appellant, who had been convicted twice of exposing himself to another person within a ten-year period, was indicted for felony indecent exposure in violation of Code §§ 18.2-387 and -67.5:1.

         At trial, appellant took issue with the performance of his court-appointed counsel. He alleged that despite numerous letters sent to his attorney, the two had not met to discuss the "logistics" of the case until a couple of days before trial. He said he had "no way of knowing how to make the correct decision and how to pursue this matter" because he felt he had not been properly assisted by counsel. Appellant's trial counsel expressed his belief that he could capably defend his client; however, he conceded that he had failed to subpoena videotape from VCBR showing the circumstances surrounding the indecent exposure. The trial court denied both appellant's request for new counsel and his attorney's request for a continuance to subpoena the video footage.

         After the court denied these motions, appellant became noncompliant. Appellant refused to stand for his arraignment, prompting the court to find him in contempt. After bailiffs lifted appellant up, he refused to respond when asked for his plea. The court interpreted his silence as a plea of not guilty.

         When appellant continued to refuse to participate in the colloquy, the trial court announced that it would interpret his silence as assent to a number of statements. The last of these statements was the court's assumption that appellant intended to waive his right to trial by jury:

THE COURT: All right. Then what we are going to do is this. I'm going to read through the questions and assume that unless you speak up you agree with me.
I'm going to assume that you are Gregory A. Richardson, date of birth January 19th, 1968, and that you are the person charged in the indictment; that you fully understand the charge; that you've discussed it with your lawyer; that you've had enough time to go over any defenses you may have; and that you have all of the witnesses, if any, here today that you need for trial; that you are entirely satisfied with the services of your attorney; that you are pleading not guilty freely and voluntarily; that you are not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol; that you are ready for trial today; that you have discussed the advisability of trial by judge or trial by jury, and that you've chosen to waive your right to trial by jury.

         Neither appellant nor his counsel responded to the trial court's questions.

         The trial court, sitting without a jury, heard the case and found appellant guilty. The trial court entered two, identical conviction orders, which recited that neither appellant nor his trial counsel had "demand[ed] trial by jury." Appellant filed a pro se motion to vacate and set aside the trial court's finding of guilt. Among other issues, the motion asserted that the trial court improperly conducted a bench trial in violation of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of Virginia.

         Appellant timely noticed his appeal to this Court. His sole issue on appeal is "The Court failed to properly ascertain a plea of not guilty and want for a ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.