A felon who already confessed to having a gun will represent himself at a trial after his guilty plea was rejected by Federal Judge Sandy Mattice on Monday.
Judge Mattice came to this conclusion after an arduous process in which it eventually became clear that Raphael Ar-Rahmaan, 30, was less than thrilled with his attorney's representation. Ar-Rahmaan even attempted to get new counsel, a motion denied by the court.
The defendant is a convicted felon and was found with a gun by police after he was wanted for a burglary. According to Ar-Rahmaan, it was originally believed that a warrant was never issued for his apprehension. Because of this, attorney Ripper filed a motion for suppression, as they believed the federal government could not prosecute Ar-Rahmaan for things that happened during an incident they did not have a warrant for.
However, according to court documents, the federal government produced evidence they had a warrant for Ar-Rahmaan. Because of this, attorney Ripper dismissed his motion or a suppression hearing, since the factual basis for the suppression hearing no longer existed.
However, Ar-Rahmaan believed his suppression hearing was withdrawn without his consent, a belief he vocalized to Judge Mattice.
“I feel like I’ve denied my rights because of the suppression case (being dismissed),” said Ar-Rahmaan, “I was really looking forward to exoneration.”
When Judge Mattice told the defendant he had the option of representing himself at a trial, Ar-Rahmaan shot down that suggestion by saying, “I don’t know the language you speak” and asked for a new attorney. Judge Mattice eliminated that idea, pointing out how expensive federal attorneys are.
“What have you done to make it fair for taxpayers to pay for two or three attorneys,” asked the judge after Ar-Rahmaan said he had the right to have two or three shots at having an attorney who could represent him well.
Ar-Rahmaan even admitted to needing to plead guilty if the interaction with the police was not suppressed, as he freely said the gun was found on him. However, during the plea session, the defendant continued to make comments about how he believed he was being forced into pleading guilty.
He told Judge Mattice that he felt entrapped, and that agents were “using a female” to get him in a situation to be arrested. And yet when Judge Mattice asked him if he still wanted to plead guilty, Ar-Rahmaan begrudgingly continued.
But as the guilty plea continued, and Ar-Rahmaan persisted in grumbling about how his representation was poor and he believed he was denied justice, Judge Mattice began to ask if he truly wanted to plead guilty after each question. An exasperated judge finally stopped the guilty plea midway through.
He said, “I’m going to refuse your guilty plea, and you’re going to represent yourself at your own trial,” as a shocked courtroom looked on. The trial date will be set at a later time.