South Carolina v. DialAnnotate this Case
John Henry Dial Jr. was charged in magistrates court with three counts of assault and battery in the third degree arising from an incident in which two adults and one minor were sprayed with pepper spray. Dial appeared in court several times before trial, each time without counsel. He pled not guilty and requested a jury trial. The record on appeal did not include transcripts of Dial's pre-trial appearances. The magistrate averred he advised Dial on three separate occasions before trial of his right to be represented by an attorney. Each time, Dial requested to represent himself. The return was silent as to whether the magistrate advised Dial of the dangers of representing himself. Dial testified in his defense and denied spraying any of the victims with pepper spray. The jury returned a verdict of guilty on two counts of assault and battery in the third degree but found Dial not guilty on the count for spraying the minor. The magistrates court sentenced Dial to sixty days in jail. Dial retained counsel to appeal his conviction to the circuit court. He argued, among other things, "[Dial] was not represented by counsel and did not waive his right to counsel." At the hearing in the circuit court, Dial's counsel stated, "There is no evidence in the return or in the transcript that the trial judge properly warned [Dial] under Faretta v. California of the dangers of proceeding pro se." The circuit court affirmed Dial's conviction. The South Carolina Supreme Court determined the record idid not reflect whether the magistrates court obtained a valid waiver of the right to counsel before proceeding to the trial of this unrepresented defendant. Therefore, the Supreme Court remanded to the circuit court for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his right to counsel.