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Name: People v. James
Case #: A128865
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 12/22/2011
Subsequent History: Rehrg. denied; opn. modified
Summary

The right of self-representation does not encompass direct access to a publicly funded law library and there was no violation of the right by the jail providing access to legal materials through legal research assistants. The pro per defendant was not allowed direct access to the law library. He was required to use a “paging” system which provided only the specific materials requested. There was timely compliance with his numerous requests for legal materials. He alleged an inability to prepare for trial and relinquished his pro per status. Appointed counsel brought a motion to dismiss on the basis that the right of self-representation had been sabotaged by the limitations placed on access to legal research. There is no United States Supreme Court authority which describes the extent to which the government must provide a defendant representing himself with access to a publicly funded library. The California Supreme Court has recognized that the right of self-representation includes the right to reasonably necessary defense services. The general proposition does not dictate the services that must be made available. There was no evidence that the paging system failed to provide any particular request or that it impaired his ability to file numerous pretrial motions which were supported by appropriate authority. Thus he was not denied the means to reasonably conduct a defense.