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Name: People v. Lawrence
Case #: B193831
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 01/02/2008
Subsequent History: 4/9/08 Rev. Granted: S160736

The trial court erred when it refused to appoint counsel for appellant who revoked his Faretta waiver. Refusing to agree to a two week continuance requested by his counsel, appellant asserted his Sixth Amendment right to represent himself in his trial for two serious drug offenses. After a half day of jury selection, appellant asked that counsel be appointed to represent him. The court refused his request, as well as a second request made at the conclusion of the jury selection. The appellate court held that the trial court abused its discretion when it denied appellant’s request to withdraw his Faretta waiver and reassert his right to counsel. The trial court denied the motion because the jury had already been selected and sworn and the delay would be disruptive. While not a trivial reason, it was insufficient to justify the denial of appellant’s request for appointment of counsel. There was nothing in the record which showed that appellant was trying to manipulate the right to counsel for any improper purpose. He simply realized that he was incapable of understanding the proceedings and conducting a defense. The error was structural, requiring reversal per se.