State v. Hampton: Addressing Forfeiture of the Right to Counsel by Egregious Conduct

In Hampton, the Arizona Supreme Court specifically declined to decide whether a criminal defendant whose conduct is severely egregious may forfeit his right to counsel. Despite having threatened the lives of court-appointed attorneys, the Arizona Supreme Court chose to grant the motion to withdraw, remand the case to the superior court for the appointment of new counsel, and warn the defendant that further misconduct could be deemed a “waiver by conduct.” The Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling is consistent with U.S. Supreme Court and federal courts of appeals’ decisions requiring a warning that continued misconduct would result in a waiver of the defendant’s right to an attorney before finding that the defendant had indeed “waived” his right to counsel. However, it is yet to be determined whether “forfeiture” of the right to counsel can occur in Arizona.