United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS United States District Judge
matter is set for trial beginning April 10, 2017. On April 6,
2017, the court held a hearing at the joint request (doc. 14)
of counsel for the Government and counsel for the Defendant.
Counsel for the Government was present, as was the Defendant,
appearing in his self-styled “proper person” of
Vaughn Alexander El. Also present was appointed counsel for
the Defendant, Kevin Butler, the Public Defender for the
Northern District of Alabama. Counsel for the Defendant
stated that his client preferred to be addressed as Mr. El.
Accordingly, at the hearing, the Court addressed the
Defendant as “Mr. El”. The Court also has used
the terms “the Defendant” and “Mr.
El” interchangeably throughout this Memorandum Opinion
The Faretta Issue
Proceedings before Magistrate Judge Putnam
upon a determination that the Defendant was entitled to
appointed counsel (see Minute Entry dated 2/4/2017;
see also Financial Affidavit (doc. 4 dated 2/4/2017)
the Federal Public Defender (“FPD”) was appointed
on February 4, 2017, to represent the Defendant on the single
charge against him in the one-count indictment: felon in
possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
922(g). (See doc. 1, Indictment). On March 10, 2017,
counsel for the Defendant filed a Motion for Hearing To
Clarify Representation (doc. 11, filed 3/10/2017), based upon
“communications from Mr. Cropper [to the FPD]
indicating that he wishes to represent himself in this
matter” necessitating “a Faretta inquiry
... to clarify whether Mr. Cropper wishes to waive his right
to counsel in this matter and to determine whether Mr.
Cropper is knowingly and voluntarily waiving that
right.” (Doc. 11). In response to that Motion, a
Faretta hearing was held on March 22, 2017, before
Magistrate Judge T. Michael Putnam. That same day, Judge Putnam
entered an Order (Text Order, doc. 13) “granting
11 Motion for hearing to clarify representation as
to Vaughn Alexander Cropper (1); defendant refused to waive
right to counsel, FPD shall continue to represent defendant
in all further proceedings.”
after the Faretta hearing and Judge Putnam's
Order (doc. 13), the parties filed a “Joint Request for
Status Conference” (doc. 23). The Joint Request is set
out in full below.
now Vaughn A. Cropper, by and through Kevin L. Butler, and
the United States, by and through Gregory Dimler, and jointly
request a status conference in this matter. In support of
this request the parties state:
1) Mr. Cropper is charged with being a felon in possession of
a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). See Docket
2) Trial is presently scheduled for April 3, 2017.
3) Though the parties have engaged in good faith
negotiations, as of the filing of this pleading, a plea
agreement has not been reached.
4) Mr. Cropper has also advised defense counsel that he
wishes to represent himself. However, at a March 22, 2017
hearing to clarify the status of his representation no
information was presented to the Court that would satisfy the
requirements of Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806
(1975).[fn 1]. See Docket Sheet 11-13. Consequently,
the Office of the Federal Public Defender was not relieved
and stands ready to proceed forward.
FN 1. Based upon principles adopted by the “Sovereign
Citizen Movement”, though Mr. Cropper appears to want
to represent himself, he does not accept the Court's
jurisdiction and would not waive his right to counsel (or any
5) Because of Mr. Cropper's unique views regarding the
propriety of this proceedings and the fact his views may make
the trial and future litigation in this matter unique, both
parties believe a status conference will assist the court ...