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Name: People v. Sanchez
Case #: S188453
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 12/05/2011

If a defendant seeks to withdraw his plea of guilty based on ineffective assistance of counsel, with a clear indication that he wants substitute counsel, then the procedure of a Marsden hearing is required before the appointment of counsel to assist with the motion to withdraw the plea. It was error to appoint substitute counsel for the limited purpose of consulting about the defendant’s desire for a motion to withdraw the plea in lieu of conducting the inquiry required by People v. Marsden (1970) 2 Cal.3d 118. Once there is a clear request for substitute counsel, either through counsel or the defendant personally, then the Marsden procedure is required. The reliance on specially appointed counsel in such circumstances is a violation of the court’s constitutional and statutory obligation to hear the facts and make a determination as to whether counsel should be discharged. This case resulted in a limited remand for the trial court to conduct the necessary Marsden procedure. If the trial court finds that the failure to replace counsel would substantially impair the right to counsel, then new counsel should be appointed for all purposes. If the Marsden motion is denied, or if it is granted and new counsel makes no motions or those motions are denied, then the judgment is to be reinstated.