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Name: People v. Lawrence
Case #: S160736
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 04/30/2009

When a defendant elects to represent himself and has proceeded to trial, it is within the discretion of the trial court, considering the totality of the circumstances, to determine whether he then can give up his right of self-representation and have counsel appointed for him. Appellant was represented by retained counsel but when counsel advised that he could not be ready for trial for about two weeks because he was in an attempted murder case, appellant elected to represent himself. His trial had commenced, with the jury selected and sworn, opening statements given, and a prosecution witness testifying, when appellant indicated that he wished to revoke his pro per status. The trial court denied the request, stating appellant had been advised of consequences of self-representation and it would be disruptive to the co-defendant to grant appellant’s motion. The appellate court found that the trial court abused its discretion with the error being prejudicial per se. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment, finding under the totality of the circumstances, there was no abuse of discretion. (People v. Windham (1977) 19 Cal.3d 121; People v. Elliott (1977) 70 Cal.App.3d 984.)