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Name: People v. Phillips
Case #: C048887
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 01/03/2006

During appellant’s Marsden motion, he stated that “I feel maybe I should represent myself” because his attorney was not representing him properly. He also said that “maybe I could do better myself.” The judge proceeded to hold a Faretta hearing. At that hearing, the court found that appellant had made an unequivocal request to represent himself. However, following a further colloquy, appellant agreed to continue with the attorney that he had. On appeal, he contended that the trial court erred by denying his Faretta motion after finding that he had made an unequivocal request to represent himself. The appellate court found no error. The court initially determined that Phillips made an unequivocal request to represent himself, but later conducted a proper inquiry during which it determined that Phillips was unclear about proceeding in pro per. The court properly ruled that the request had actually been equivocal, and the Faretta motion was properly denied. There is nothing in the law which suggests that once a trial court hears what it thinks is an unequivocal request for self-representation, it cannot later decide the request is equivocal as the Faretta hearing proceeds.