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Name: People v. Carson
Case #: S117568
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 02/03/2005

The trial court granted Carson’s request to represent himself at his murder trial. That status was revoked following an incident when he received an unredacted copy of the “murder book” (a law enforcement notebook which contained witness’s addresses and phone numbers)to which he was not entitled. When the court discovered the improper acquisition of the discovery, it ordered seizure of all the materials. It then terminated Carson’s pro per status. The Supreme Court granted review to determine whether a trial court may terminate or revoke a defendant’s right of self-representation only for in-court misconduct. The Court held that neither the language nor the logic of Faretta imposes such a limitation. A court may order termination for misconduct that seriously threatens the core integrity of the trial. Here, it was impossible to determine from the record whether the out-of-court misconduct seriously threatened the integrity of the trial. Since the material was seized, it is impossible to tell what improper discovery Carson had access to, and whether some sanction short of termination would have adequately addressed the problem. Therefore, remand was required for a hearing in accordance with this opinion.