from a judgment and an order of the circuit court for
Milwaukee County No. 2015CF1075: JEFFREY A. KREMERS, Judge.
Kessler, P.J., Brennan and Brash, JJ.
Terrance Lavone Egerson appeals from his judgment of
conviction, entered upon a jury's verdict, as well as an
order of the trial court denying his postconviction motion.
Egerson argues that his right to self-representation was
violated when the trial court denied his request to proceed
pro se during an exchange with the trial court at a
motion hearing. The State argues that Egerson's request
was not clear and unequivocal and, therefore, he did not
invoke his right to self-representation. Accordingly, the
State contends that there was no violation and thus no error
on the part of the trial court. We agree and affirm.
In March 2015, Egerson was charged with stalking and several
counts of violating domestic abuse injunctions as a repeat
offender. These charges stemmed from Egerson's repeated
contact and harassment of his wife in spite of the
injunctions: he made numerous phone calls to her, both while
he was in jail and out; he sent her numerous letters, some of
them threatening; he made calls to the Milwaukee Police
Department pretending to be a reporter to obtain information
about the domestic violence case against him; he called his
wife's landlord pretending to be a police detective
investigating his wife; and he was arrested-while out on bail
after a previous arrest for a domestic violence incident-when
he was found hiding in his wife's basement. Several
additional counts for domestic violence injunction violations
were subsequently added.
In August 2015, Egerson's first attorney, Justin
Singleton, requested to withdraw as counsel. He cited a
disagreement over trial strategy regarding whether the
assistant district attorney assigned to the case, Nicolas
Heitman, should be called as a witness; Attorney Heitman had
observed certain conduct by Egerson that was set forth in the
complaint. The trial court refused to allow Attorney
Singleton to withdraw based on a "trial strategy
However, in October 2015, Attorney Singleton again moved to
withdraw as counsel for Egerson. Attorney Singleton explained
that Egerson did not have "sufficient faith in [Attorney
Singleton's] efforts or … abilities" to
defend him, noting that Egerson was speaking to the media
against Attorney Singleton's advice, preparing motions on
his own behalf, and accusing Attorney Singleton of working in
concert with the District Attorney's Office and against
him. Thus, Attorney Singleton declared that his
attorney/client relationship with Egerson was
"irreparably destroyed" and that he did not believe
that he could effectively represent Egerson any longer. The
trial court also heard from Egerson, who stated that Attorney
Singleton's representation had been "totally
deficient" and that there had been a "total
breakdown" in communication.
The trial court granted Attorney Singleton's motion to
THE COURT: I'm going to let Mr. Singleton withdraw. But
you know what, Mr. Egerson, you may get a lawyer that will
come close to being as good as Mr. Singleton, but you
won't get one who's better. That's a fact.
He's a very good lawyer. I'm very impressed, in the
short time I've been back on the bench, with Mr.
Singleton's abilities in a number of cases. In fact,
he's been more than good, especially on constitutional
THE DEFENDANT: I've been impressed.
THE COURT: So-no, apparently you haven't been, Mr.
Egerson, since you-no, Mr. Egerson, you're done talking
THE DEFENDANT: Yes. Yes.
THE COURT: I'm going to let you have another lawyer. You
think you know so much more about trial strategy and how to
prepare a case and how to get ready for trial, we'll see
how you do with your next lawyer. But here's the thing,
Mr. Egerson. You're heading down a slope, based on this
record, where you're going to find yourself … in a
position where a court says you're waiving your right to