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Name: People v. Washington
Case #: C084503
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/15/2019
Summary

Indigent defendant with retained counsel was not entitled to have the county pay for discovery from the prosecution because a third party agreed to pay for expenses in a retainer agreement with counsel. A jury convicted Washington of multiple felonies and he was sentenced to prison. Among other grounds on appeal, Washington argued that, because he was indigent, the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion for payment of costs for copying discovery. The trial court denied the motion because Washington’s mother had retained an attorney for Washington and agreed to pay routine costs and expenses in the retainer agreement (county counsel brought the retainer agreement to the court’s attention during litigation of the motion). Held: Affirmed. The Sixth Amendment right to effective counsel includes the right to “ancillary services” necessary to prepare a defense. Assuming the cost of duplicating discovery constitutes a reimbursable ancillary service for an indigent defendant, Washington failed to establish that he was entitled to have the county fund such expenses in his case. The trial court properly considered the terms of the retainer agreement between the retained attorney and Washington’s mother, finding that Washington’s mother, who was not indigent, was responsible for paying the minor costs for copying discovery under the retainer agreement. Although Washington challenged these findings on appeal, a copy of the retainer agreement was not made part of the record on appeal and nothing in the record showed the trial court’s description of the retainer agreement’s terms was incorrect. There was no equal protection violation because Washington was not similarly situated to indigent defendants whose ancillary defense costs were not covered by a retainer agreement. Even assuming the court erred in denying the motion for discovery costs, there was no prejudice because counsel had access to and viewed the discovery.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/archive/C084503.PDF