United States v. Lee, No. 13-1976 (7th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Charged with committing four drug-related robberies of Milwaukee pharmacies; having used a firearm in connection with the robberies; and having possessed a controlled substance with intent to distribute, defendant was first represented by appointed counsel. He disagreed with how counsel proposed to handle the hearing on a motion to suppress and sought to discharge counsel and proceed pro se. He did not seek a continuance; nor did he object to the hearing being conducted by a magistrate. The magistrate responded that “this hearing will proceed with the defendant … represented by counsel. Following the hearing, the court will address the defendant’s motion to remove counsel and proceed pro se.” The hearing lasted nine hours; 12 witnesses testified. After the hearing, the magistrate granted the motion to discharge counsel, then mooted it with respect to the suppression hearing, denying defendant’s motion to reopen the hearing to present additional evidence. The magistrate recommended that the original motion to suppress, be denied. The district judge agreed with both recommendations. Defendant represented himself at trial and on appeal. He was sentenced to 780 months in prison. The Seventh Circuit vacated and ordered the court to hold a new hearing on the motion to suppress, allowing the defendant to represent himself.