Skip to content
Name: People v. Munoz
Case #: G034265
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 04/17/2006

In People v. Ortiz (1990) 51 Cal.3d 975, the California Supreme Court held that a criminal defendant has the right to relieve his retained attorney and have new counsel appointed without demonstrating that his retained attorney is incompetent. In this case, the issue raised was whether Ortiz applies after the defendant has been convicted. Here, appellant sent the court a letter forty days after his conviction, but nine days before sentencing, stating that he had not been competently represented at trial by retained counsel, and requesting new counsel be appointed. The trial court, believing that appellant had failed to make a showing of ineffective assistance of counsel, denied his request. The appellate court reversed and remanded, finding a violation of appellant’s Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel. Under Ortiz, appellant was not required to demonstrate inadequate representation or conflict of interest. Nor did Ortiz draw any distinctions between pre and post verdict requests. A motion to discharge counsel may be denied if it is untimely or would otherwise disrupt the administration of justice. Here, granting appellant’s request would not have resulted in a lengthy delay or duplicative costs to the taxpayers.