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State v. Bryant

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Second Circuit

November 20, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA Appellee
v.
FAIR WAYNE BRYANT Appellant

          Appealed from the First Judicial District Court for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana Trial Court No. 185469 Honorable Brady D. O'Callaghan, Judge

          LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT By: Peggy J. Sullivan Counsel for Appellant

          JAMES E. STEWART, SR. District Attorney Counsel for Appellee

          TOMMY JAN JOHNSON Assistant District Attorney

          Before MOORE, STEPHENS, and McCALLUM, JJ.

          MCCALLUM, J.

         Fair Wayne Bryant ("Bryant") appeals his sentence. Bryant asserts that the trial court erred by not appointing an attorney to represent him during the resentencing. He contends the judge did not conduct an adequate colloquy to determine if his waiver was knowing, intelligent, and voluntary. Bryant argues that he was entitled to be resentenced and the trial court erred in not considering any reduction in sentence. He contends that his life sentence is unconstitutionally harsh and excessive.

         FACTS

         A jury convicted Bryant of one count of attempted simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling in July, 1997. Thereafter, Bryant was adjudicated a fourth-felony habitual offender with a prior crime of violence and sentenced to life imprisonment without benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. Bryant appealed his conviction and sentence. This Court affirmed the conviction and sentence. State v. Bryant, 34, 244 (La.App. 2 Cir. 12/6/00), 775 So.2d 596, writ denied, 2001-0144 (La. 2001) 802 So.2d 627.

         Bryant filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence, arguing that his life sentence was illegal, on February 26, 2018. The trial court denied that motion. Bryant sought supervisory review, and on June 28, 2018, this Court granted Bryant's writ in part and remanded the matter with instructions. Because Bryant's life sentence was authorized by both La. R.S. 15:529.1(A)(1)(c)(i) and (ii), this Court found that the term of Bryant's sentence was not illegal and denied the writ in part, "as it relates to Bryant's life term." However, this Court found that the parole ineligibility contained in Bryant's sentence was illegal because La. R.S. 14:62.2 (1997) contained a prohibition on parole for the first year of the sentence only. This Court reversed the trial court's denial of Bryant's motion to correct an illegal sentence in part, and remanded "for resentencing pursuant to the more lenient provisions of [La. R.S. 15:529.1(A)(1)(c)(i)], as enacted by the legislature in 2001 La. Acts 403." The life sentence was left undisturbed by this Court and the matter remanded for resentencing as concerns the eligibility for parole alone.

         On August 2, 2018, the trial court resentenced Bryant to life imprisonment with the first year to be served without benefit of parole and with no eligibility for probation or suspension of sentence. Bryant sought review of that sentence by writ of supervisory review. We remanded that writ for perfection as an appeal.

         DISCUSSION - RIGHT TO COUNSEL

         Bryant admits that the trial court offered to appoint an attorney to represent him or allow him time to hire an attorney. He admits he waived counsel because he thought that he could handle the case on his own. Bryant now argues that the trial court should have conducted an additional colloquy to determine his ability to represent himself and asserts that a sentence imposed in the absence of counsel is invalid.

         The State highlights Bryant's waiver of counsel at resentencing. It further argues that because Bryant's resentencing was limited to a determination of parole eligibility, it was a mere ministerial function not allowing discretion of the ...


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