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Name: People v. Robinson
Case #: C051338
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/29/2007

When a trial court suspends criminal proceedings because of a reasonable doubt as to the defendant’s competence, it is required to appoint counsel for the defendant. Faretta v. California does not apply in competency proceedings. This is a requirement of statute (Pen. Code, s. 1368), and also a requirement of the Fourteenth Amendment, since a defendant cannot waive his right to fair competency proceedings. The court followed prior federal and state authority (the latter of which was pre-Faretta) which found that a court cannot question a defendant’s competence to stand trial, and at the same time conclude that he may knowingly and intelligently waive his right to counsel; a doubt as to one necessarily implies a doubt as to the other. The court remanded for a retrospective competency hearing rather than reversing in full, recognizing that this was the exceptional remedy rather than the rule, but finding that the circumstances of this particular case warranted it.