By Allison Hodge
SACRAMENTO, CA– On the eve of his co-defendant trial set for last Friday in Sacramento County Superior Court, Ledonne Drake Thursday requested to represent himself yet again after previously asking for counsel in 2019.
Drake faces 100 years to life in state prison for alleged murder and illegal possession of a weapon, yet he still told Judge Geoffrey Goodman that he believed he could competently represent himself at trial.
Since his arrest in 2019, Ledonne was originally appointed a private panel attorney, then requested “pro-per” status during the pre-preliminary hearing of the original trial, and then again requested that counsel be reappointed.
Defense attorney Martin Tejeda began Thursday’s hearing with a request for continuance of the case, based on witness unavailability.
Judge Goodman proceeded with several questions regarding Ledonne’s background and intelligence, asking about school completion, reading and writing comprehension, and intellectual challenges.
Tejeda stated that he did not believe any intellectual deficits would prevent the defendant from representing himself. The defense attorney also mentioned that Ledonne had gone over legal definitions and had experience with attorneys from his previous strikes.
Judge Goodman then questioned the defendant, asking, “You also understand that it is generally not a wise choice to represent yourself in such matters?”
Ledonne replied with a simple “yes.”
Judge Goodman proceeded to make sure that the defendant was not choosing to represent himself purely to avoid a continuance.
The defendant complained, “They violated my Sixth Amendment rights, though,” referring to the previous waiver of his right to a speedy and public trial.
Judge Goodman responded, “That’s not the issue we’re talking about now,” and made sure to clarify that the court can grant a continuance whether he objects or not.
Ledonne again voiced his concern, “Y’all [have] been continuing this since I’ve been locked up, I’m trying to ask for a speedy trial.”
The defendant clarified, however, that he was not using this as a tactic or to delay a continuance, and stated, “That’s not what I’m doing.”
Judge Goodman then took the time to warn Ledonne of the circumstances he faces going forward to trial.
Ledonne was warned that the court cannot grant any special treatment, that he will be opposed by a trained prosecutor, and that he must comply with all rules and procedures a normal attorney must.
Judge Goodman also mentioned that, if convicted later, Ledonne cannot appeal based on a claim that he was intellectually challenged.
When asked if he believed he could handle his own case, the defendant responded with a simple “yes.”
Judge Goodman, thus, granted the defendant’s petition to represent himself.
Despite Ledonne’s request to proceed to trial at once, Judge Goodman granted a continuance of the case in light of the dismissal of the defense attorney.
The case is set to begin trial on Aug. 30, with a pre-trial conference scheduled for Aug. 25 in the afternoon.