Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Owen: Rejecting Faretta Claim and Challenges to Seizure of Jail Funds

In United States v. Owen, No. 15-12744 (June 24, 2020) (Jill Pryor, Bill Pryor, Luck), the Court affirmed the defendant’s convictions over a Faretta challenge and rejected his challenges to the court’s seizure of funds from his jail account to pay for appointed counsel.

As to the convictions, the defendant proceeded pro se during two days of trail before pleading guilty.  After analyzing eight factors, the Court concluded that the defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his right to counsel.

As to the jail account funds, the defendant first argued that the court failed to comply with procedural requirements in the CJA before seizing the money from his jail account.  However, because the court gave him notice and an opportunity to be heard before the court directed the money be paid to the Treasury, the Court concluded that any error was harmless.  Second, the defendant argued the court could not direct the funds to the Treasury because he received the money as Social Security benefits.  The Court concluded that, under the CJA, it lacked jurisdiction to address the district court’s administration determination in that regard, and the defendant could not use Rule 41 to circumvent that.