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Name: People v. Knight
Case #: D067410
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/31/2015

Reversal required where trial court improperly warned defendant during Marsden hearing that he would waive his right to remain silent if he discussed the crime. Knight was convicted of robbery with two prior strikes. During a posttrial, presentence Marsden hearing, the trial court advised Knight that he would waive his right to remain silent if he discussed the circumstances of the robbery. Knight then stopped talking about the robbery and simply voiced the same complaints that he had made at an earlier Marsden hearing. The court denied the Marsden motion and sentenced Knight to a 25-years-to-life term. Knight appealed, claiming the trial court’s warning effectively prevented him from fully articulating the reasons his counsel had been ineffective. Held: Reversed. Criminal defendants are entitled to the effective assistance of counsel. Under People v. Marsden (1970) 2 Cal.3d 118, a defendant has the right to seek substitution of appointed counsel if he can show that the continued representation of his attorney would deny him effective assistance of counsel. Statements a defendant makes during a Marsden hearing are subject to use immunity; they “may not be used in further related proceedings, save for the purposes of impeachment and rebuttal in such proceedings.” In response to the trial court’s erroneous advice, Knight abbreviated his Marsden presentation. Since it could not be concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that Knight’s fully articulated Marsden motion would have been unsuccessful or that, if successful, new counsel would have failed in prosecuting a motion for a new trial, reversal was required and the case was remanded.