Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, August 25, 2008

Diaz: No Waiver of Right to Trial by Jury

In U.S. v. Diaz, No. 06-13782 (Aug. 22, 2008), the Court reversed a bench trial conviction because the defendant did not give a knowing and voluntary waiver of his right to jury trial.
The defendant was found competent to stand trial, despite his insistence that he was not "Michael Diaz," but had been transformed into a new person named D’Ineiehaimaye D’Inemani. Before trial, Diaz stated that he did "not want any juries infringed upon D"ine because they are not of D’Ine peers of D’Ine peoples but the plebeians and colonizers of this occupational imperialistic power structure." The district court ultimately interpreted this and other statements to waive the right to trial by jury. The court therefore conducted a bench trial, and convicted Diaz of all bank robbery charges.
Reversing, the Court found that "Diaz was unsatisfied with the persons that would form the jury, not that he wanted a bench trial." The Court pointed out that Diaz did not sign a waiver of jury form. His statements regarding his intent to waive his right to jury trial were "equivocal." The Court therefore vacated the conviction.