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Name: People v. El
Case #: B153599
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 10/09/2002
Subsequent History: Rev. denied 1/15/03.

Appellant was permitted to represent himself during his murder trial. During the prosecutor’s argument, he repeatedly interrupted the prosecutor with objections which were consistently overruled. After 22 such objections, the court warned appellant outside the presence of the jury, that he would be removed if he continued. He continued making objections, and was removed for the remainder of the argument, during which time he was unrepresented. (Previously appointed stand-by counsel was not directed to represent appellant during this time.) Appellant returned to the courtroom and made his closing argument without incident, and the jury convicted him. Here, the appellate court affirmed the conviction. Although the trial court erred by proceeding in appellant’s absence when stand-by counsel was available to represent him, the error was harmless. The absence from the courtroom amounted to five pages of the prosecutor’s argument, so the denial of counsel was less than total, the prosecutor committed no misconduct during that time, and the evidence was overwhelming.