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Name: People v. Ruiz
Case #: F033955
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 09/07/2001
Subsequent History: Review Denied December 12, 2001

At his trial for robbery, appellant expressed his desire to not be present for the trial. Despite the trial court’s warnings that it might be a mistake, appellant affirmed his desire to give up his right to be present, and the court granted his wish. On appeal, appellant argued that the trial occurred in violation of his statutory right to be present because he had not executed a written waiver. The Court of Appeal affirmed. Penal Code section 1043 requires that the defendant in a felony case shall be present for trial, but that the voluntary absence of the defendant after the trial has commenced shall not prevent the continuation of the trial. The trial “commences” for this purpose when a defendant is physically present in the courtroom where the trial is to be held, and voluntarily confronts the judge and says he does not desire to participate. The trial court was therefore authorized to proceed in his absence.