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Name: Marshall v. Rodgers
Case #: 12-382
Court: US Supreme Court
District USSup
Opinion Date: 04/01/2013
Subsequent History: 133 S.Ct. 1446; 185 L.Ed.2d 540

California trial court did not violate Sixth Amendment right to counsel by refusing to appoint counsel postconviction for purposes of filing new trial motion. Rodgers was convicted in state court of making criminal threats and firearm offenses. During the state court proceedings he was at several points represented by counsel and at others, self-represented. After a guilty verdict, Rodgers’ request for appointment of counsel to file a new trial motion was denied. The state court affirmed his conviction. The Ninth Circuit reversed, finding Rodgers’ Sixth Amendment right to counsel was violated when his timely request for counsel postconviction was denied. Held: Reversed. In reaching its conclusion, the Ninth Circuit drew from its own Sixth Amendment precedents to find that a defendant’s waiver of the right to counsel does not bar a later election to request counsel at a critical stage of the proceedings when such request is made in good faith. Assuming that a motion for new trial is a critical stage of a criminal case, the Supreme Court declined to decide the merits of the case, but found the circuit court erred because it adopted its own resolution of the tension between the right to counsel and the right of self-representation–a strong presumption the request for counsel should be granted–over the state court’s framework for determining when the trial court should appoint counsel after a defendant has elected self-representation. Without determining the merits of each approach, the Supreme Court found that California’s procedure is not contrary to general standards established by the Supreme Court’s assistance of counsel cases.