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Name: People v. Doss
Case #: A137203
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 09/26/2014
Summary

Trial court’s use of wrong legal standard in revoking defendant’s right to self-representation under Faretta v. California (1975) 422 U.S. 806, requires conditional reversal. Doss was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and other offenses, committed while he was an inmate. His request for pro per status was initially granted but was revoked after several hearings based on his abuse of his pro per privileges. Evidence was presented regarding Doss’ destructive, violent behavior and abuse of telephone privileges at the jail. The prosecution also informed the court that Doss threatened and intimidated a female minor who was a codefendant with him in another case. Doss was convicted and appealed. Held: Conditionally reversed. The Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments give defendants the right to self-representation if they are willing to abide by the court’s rules of procedure and protocol. Self-representation may be revoked when the defendant engages in serious and obstructionist misconduct, either inside or outside the courtroom, and where there are no available alternative sanctions. In revoking Doss’ pro per status, the trial court cited Wilson v. Superior Court (1978) 21 Cal.3d 816, which involved the restriction of pro per privileges, and allows such constraints where a defendant presents a security risk. However, the fact a defendant poses a security risk does not necessarily justify revocation of his pro per status. The trial court did not apply the correct standard set forth in People v. Carson (2005) 35 Cal.4th 1, which requires the court to consider the effect of the conduct on the court proceedings and available alternative sanctions. The matter was remanded for a hearing in which the appropriate standard is applied. But the judgment should be reinstated if the court determines Doss is not entitled to represent himself.