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Name: People v. Anderson
Case #: B245674
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 03/10/2015

Although appellant was deprived of his right to competent counsel at the preliminary hearing, relief was not available following his trial absent a showing he suffered prejudice. Anderson was convicted of first degree murder and several enhancements, plus three prior strike allegations. He was represented by retained counsel at his preliminary hearing, subsequent arraignment, and pretrial conference. At a subsequent pretrial conference, the retained attorney withdrew as Anderson’s attorney and was replaced by a member of the alternate public defender office. Prior to the proceedings, the retained attorney had been placed on inactive status by the State Bar and was “not eligible to practice law.” On appeal, Anderson contended that the retained attorney’s ineligibility to practice law deprived him of his right to counsel at a critical stage of the proceeding. The appellate court agreed, finding that Anderson was deprived of his right to representation by competent counsel at his preliminary hearing and arraignment. In addition to being placed on inactive status for failing to pay his state bar dues (which would not be sufficient alone), the record showed that the attorney was subject to discipline for willful conduct demonstrating his professional incompetence and resulting harm to a client and to the court. However, the court held that in the absence of any showing of prejudice, Anderson was not entitled to relief. Had Anderson pursued the claim before he was tried and convicted in a trial free from that defect, he would have been entitled to have the information set aside and have a new preliminary hearing. That relief is no longer available without a showing that he was deprived of a fair trial or otherwise suffered prejudice as a result of the error at the preliminary hearing. The court also held that there was sufficient evidence to support the conviction and the determination that Anderson committed the shooting for the benefit of a gang.