INDIANAPOLIS | A Portage man who represented himself in court and was convicted of three felonies will receive a new trial because the judge did not provide sufficient warning against the dangers of self-representation.
The Indiana Court of Appeals on Thursday ordered a retrial for Timothy W. Parish, who was found guilty last year of two counts of strangulation and domestic battery following a July 10, 2011, incident involving his fiancee and her son.
Parish was denied use of a public defender because he owned a mortgage-free house worth $130,000. Rather than hire an attorney, Parish opted to represent himself at trial.
According to court records, Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Thode accepted Parish's decision to proceed as his own lawyer without inquiring as to whether Parish was capable of doing so or advising Parish that self-representation is generally a bad idea.
During the trial, court records note Parish failed to object several times to inadmissible testimony. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
In a 3-0 decision, the appeals court determined Parish did not "knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily" waive his right to counsel and is therefore entitled to a new trial.
"The importance of the right to counsel cautions that trial courts should at a minimum reasonably inform defendants of the dangers and disadvantages of proceeding without counsel," wrote appeals Judge Nancy Vaidik, a Porter County native.
The appeals court decision can be further appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court.