Rather than being unequivocal, defendant's expression of a desire to represent himself came within the context of his complaints about his counsel. In any event, defendant abandoned his request by proceeding with the scheduled suppression hearing and subsequent trial without expressing any further desire to represent himself
The import of these seven words is obvious: defendant wanted to represent himself. Under People v. McIntyre, 36 N.Y.2d 10 (1974), this clear and unequivocal statement required an inquiry by the court into defendant's request. Here, that inquiry could have been as brief as asking defendant a single question confirming that he meant what he said. Contrary to the majority's suggestion, defendant, unlike the court, did not need to say or do anything else. Once defendant invoked his constitutional right to self-representation, it was for the court to inquire whether his decision was made knowingly and intelligently. The court's failure to do so constitutes reversible error. Therefore, I dissent and would reverse and order a new trial. And in case there is any doubt as to my intent, let me repeat: I dissent, unequivocally and without hesitation.
In response to Judge Rivera's dissent, the majority says in a footnote that the relevant facts are disputed. We consider the totality of the circumstances in reviewing these issues, including the defendant's conduct, manner of expression, demeanor, and word choices. "Whether defendant’s statement was an unequivocal request in the context of the Sixth Amendment is determined by the facts of the surrounding circumstances in the case as well as defendant’s conduct, including manner of expression, demeanor, and word choices. This record demonstrates that the court did not clearly deny the purported request, and neither defendant nor defense counsel sought any decision on that issue from the court at any point in the proceedings. Both factors suggest that the request was not considered genuine in the first instance by those present in the courtroom who heard the statement."