Appeals court orders new lawyer for convicted Central Texas robber

(Jail photo)
(Jail photo)(KWTX)
Published: Nov. 11, 2019 at 3:06 PM CST
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An appeal filed for a Waco man who was convicted of aggravated robbery has been sent back to the trial court by appellate judges who ordered that the man be appointed a new lawyer.

Judges on the 10th Court of Appeals last week abated the earlier ruling in the case of Leroy Lee Randle, sent it back to the 19th District Court and the panel ordered Judge Ralph Strother to appoint new counsel to represent Randle in the appeal going forward.

“The trial court shall cause the name, email and postal addresses, telephone number, and state bar number of the newly-appointed counsel to be included in a supplemental record,” the 10th Court order states.

The order sets at Nov. 22 deadline for filing record of the appointment.

The issue revolves around Randle’s almost constant demand, both before and during trial, that he be allowed to represent himself, a request Strother denied several times.

Strother, before trial, and after testimony from a psychologist, ruled Randle was competent to stand trial, but certainly was not competent to act as his own lawyer.

Randle was convicted of aggravated robbery in May as a habitual criminal and was sentenced to 95 years in prison.

He was accused of robbing the Stop N Save convenience store on Elm Avenue in Waco in November 2017 and threatening to kill the clerk with a pistol he was carrying in the waistband of his pants.

Randle, during his pre-trial appearances and during trial, itself, routinely interrupted the judge, his lawyer and the prosecutor with outbursts aimed at the state and the court.

At one point he refused to put on clothes and another incident prompted Strother to have six deputies physically bring him into the courtroom.

Although Randle was ultimately found competent to stand trial, prosecutors and the defense attorney and her investigator, court staff, the bailiffs, the judge and even members of the jury after the trial had ended said they had concern for the people who were in the courtroom and for their safety.

The attorney appointed to file the appeal in the case did so, and at the end filed an Ander’s brief, a legal requirement in a case where no appealable issues surface.

The brief was filed and was accompanied by the lawyer’s request to withdraw from the case, court records show.

The court’s order states as part of the brief “counsel stated his conclusion that, after evaluating the entire record, he has ‘found no arguable, non-frivolous issues which could result in relief being granted this appellant.’”

In response, however, the court said: “[I]n the last analysis, it is up to the court, not counsel, ‘after a full examination of all proceedings, to decide whether the case is wholly frivolous,’” the order reads.

“We disagree with counsel’s assertion that (there is no) arguable ground on appeal.”

The judges went on to order: “Additionally, the trial court shall order the newly-appointed counsel to file an appellant’s brief, according to the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure, addressing any arguable meritorious ground for appeal flowing from appellant’s requests to represent himself, as well as any other arguably meritorious ground counsel sees for reversal or modification of the trial court’s judgment.”

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