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Name: People v. Carter
Case #: S278262
Court: CA Supreme Court
Opinion Date: 05/20/2024

Prior to an SVP trial, the superior court abused its discretion in denying Carter’s Marsden motion without an adequate inquiry and further deprived Carter of effective assistance of counsel by failing to appoint substitute counsel to evaluate his motion to dismiss. After waiting over 12 years, Carter sought to file a motion to dismiss the SVP petition against him, and requested to replace the Public Defender’s Office under Marsden. The trial court erred in conducting an insufficient Marsden inquiry and in instructing Carter to file his motion to dismiss pro se. The trial court should have considered Carter’s Marsden motion in the context of the proposed motion to dismiss: not simply determining whether current counsel had “done her job” up to that point, but also whether a conflict of interest would have prevented her from effectively investigating and potentially litigating Carter’s motion to dismiss. Since the validity of the judgment depends on an unresolved issue which is distinct from the SVP finding, the judgment was conditionally reversed and remanded.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: