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Name: People v. Govea
Case #: B205715
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 06/22/2009

A delay in Marsden proceedings while competency proceedings were pending was harmless error. Criminal proceedings were suspended to determine appellant’s competence to stand trial. Appellant stated that he wished to proceed with his Marsden motion. The court would not entertain either his Faretta or Marsden motions until appellant was found competent to stand trial. Appellant filed another Marsden request, claiming that his attorney had no basis to declare a doubt as to competence to stand trial. The court heard and denied appellant’s Marsden motion a month later. On appeal, appellant contended that the trial court erred when it refused to hear his Marsden motions during the period when criminal proceedings were suspended. The appellate court agreed, finding that the court should have conducted a Marsden hearing notwithstanding the pending issue regarding competency. However, the error was harmless. The Marsden hearing, though delayed, was actually heard prior to the reinstatement of criminal proceedings. Ultimately, the court relieved counsel and allowed appellant to represent himself, and appointed standby counsel on his request. The trial court gave appellant what he sought. Under those circumstances, there was no prejudice caused by the court’s refusal to conduct an earlier Marsden hearing.