Skip to content
Name: People v. Sokolsky
Case #: B212437
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 09/21/2010

There is no constitutional right to self-representation on appeal from an SVPA commitment. In his appeal from a jury verdict adjudicating him as a sexually violent predator under the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA), appellant contended he had the right to represent himself in the appellate court. Relying on People v. Fraser (2006) 138 Cal.App.4th 1430, the court found that as with the trial court proceeding, there is no constitutional right of self-representation in an appeal of an SVPA finding. The court also declined to exercise its discretion in allowing appellant to represent himself. The Fraser court noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has not extended the right to self-representation under Faretta to proceedings other than criminal prosecutions. Likewise, there are no California cases finding a Sixth Amendment right to proceedings other than criminal prosecutions. Because such proceedings, including those under the SVPA, have a nonpunitive purpose, there is no Sixth Amendment right involved. Identifying the following four factors to be applied to determine whether due process dictates a right to self-representation in an SVPA proceeding, Fraser also found no due process right to self-representation: (1) the private interest that will be affected by the official action [these interests are liberty, reputation, and freedom from unwanted treatment]; (2) the risk of an erroneous deprivation of such interest through the procedures used, and the probable value, if any, of additional or substitute procedural safeguards; (3) the government’s interest, including the function involved and the fiscal and administrative burdens that the additional or substitute procedural requirement would entail; and (4) the dignitary interest in informing individuals of the nature, grounds, and consequences of the action and in enabling them to present their side of the story before a responsible government official. With only the third factor not weighing against a constitutional right to self-representation, as with Fraser , here there was no finding of a due process right to self-representation.