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Name: People v. Lara
Case #: F031900
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 01/10/2001
Subsequent History: None

The trial court erred when it denied appellant’s motion to discharge his privately retained counsel on the day the trial was to begin. Appellant was denied his sixth Amendment right to counsel because the trial court erroneously treated appellant’s request as a motion pursuant to People v. Marsden (1970) 2 Cal.3d 118, instead of applying the principles set forth in People v. Ortiz (1990) 51 Cal.3d 975. Marsden applies only to appointed counsel; a defendant may discharge his retained counsel of choice at any time and without cause. Appellant was not barred from discharging counsel due to untimeliness, because he raised the issue at the earliest possible opportunity. He did not “invite” the error, because it was the trial court’s duty to properly apply the law. Reversal was required because fundamental rights were affected by the court’s improper exercise of discretion