Skip to content
Name: People v. Frias (2024) 98 Cal.App.5th 999
Case #: B322762
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 7
Opinion Date: 01/12/2024

Trial court abused its discretion in denying defendant’s request for substitution of retained counsel who was ready to proceed to trial, and this structural error required reversal. Frias was convicted of stalking. Prior to his trial, Frias requested that his counsel be substituted several times. The trial court granted four of these requests, but denied subsequent requests. On appeal, Frias argued that the trial court violated his Sixth Amendment right to counsel of his choice by denying his four requests to substitute the Castaneda Law firm as his counsel. Held: Reversed. A trial court has discretion to deny a motion…

View Full Summary
Name: People v. Lopez
Case #: A148539
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 04/11/2018

Trial court abused its discretion by denying defendant's request to discharge his retained counsel as untimely, which denied his right to counsel of choice and automatically requires reversal. Lopez was charged with several sex offenses against two minors and was represented by retained counsel. At a trial readiness conference, Lopez requested that he be allowed to discharge his retained attorney and either retain new counsel or have one appointed for him. The trial court denied the motion as untimely, because trial was ready to start either that same day or the next judicial day. Lopez then pleaded no…

View Full Summary
Name: United States v. Yepiz
Case #: 07-50051
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 12/20/2016

Prosecution may have violated Brady by failing to disclose extent of witness's relationship with law enforcement. Yepiz and eight other codefendants were convicted of a number of offenses, including violations of the RICO Act. They appealed on various grounds including Brady v. Maryland (1963) 373 U.S. 83, 87. During trial, the prosecution had represented to the defense that none of its witnesses received benefits in exchange for their testimony. On cross-examination, however, one witness, Bulgarian, testified that he had been paid $5,000. While the appeal was pending, the defense discovered that Bulgarian testified in a different case that law enforcement…

View Full Summary
Name: People v. Knight
Case #: D067410
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/31/2015

Reversal required where trial court improperly warned defendant during Marsden hearing that he would waive his right to remain silent if he discussed the crime. Knight was convicted of robbery with two prior strikes. During a posttrial, presentence Marsden hearing, the trial court advised Knight that he would waive his right to remain silent if he discussed the circumstances of the robbery. Knight then stopped talking about the robbery and simply voiced the same complaints that he had made at an earlier Marsden hearing. The court denied the Marsden motion and sentenced Knight to a 25-years-to-life term. Knight appealed, claiming…

View Full Summary
Name: Joshua P. v. Superior Court (Los Angeles County)
Case #: B253564
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 05/29/2014

Juvenile court abused its discretion by refusing to allow public defender (PD) to represent a qualified juvenile ward absent a showing that the accused was not indigent or a conflict existed. Joshua was the subject of juvenile delinquency proceedings based on a number of petitions filed over the course of three years. On the first two petitions filed in the Eastlake District, the public defender (PD) declared a conflict and private counsel was appointed. By the time a third petition was filed in Compton, the conflict no longer existed and the PD assumed representation. On the fourth and fifth petitions,…

View Full Summary
Name: People v. Freeman
Case #: B237613
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 10/15/2013

Where the court determines that an appellant has been deprived of effective assistance by appellate counsel, the court can remove the attorney from the case. Appellant, having been sentenced to a 15-year-to-life term plus a determinate term, was represented on his appeal by retained counsel. Counsel filed opening briefs that did not comply with the Rules of Court because they failed to set forth comprehensible statements, issues presented, and the applicable law. With the first three briefs, counsel was provided the opportunity to file an opening brief that conformed to the Rules. Because the fourth brief also violated the…

View Full Summary
Name: People v. Avila
Case #: B216207
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 01/06/2011

The trial court does not abuse its discretion, or infringe on a defendant's right to counsel of choice, when it appoints separate counsel to represent defendant at a competency hearing following defendant's death threats against the prosecutor and the public defender. Appellant, charged with computer fraud and identity theft, elected to represent himself. After appellant continued to violate jail rules regarding telephone calls, the prosecutor asked for a hearing to determine if appellant was competent to defend himself. Following the hearing, the court terminated appellant's right of self-representation and appointed the public defender to represent him. Appellant then made threats…

View Full Summary
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…

View Full Summary
Name: US v. Rivera-Corona
Case #: 08-30286
Court: US Court of Appeals
District 9 Cir
Opinion Date: 08/18/2010

In reviewing a defendant's motion to discharge privately-retained counsel and to proceed with court-appointed counsel, the appellate court should determine if (1) the court conducted an "appropriate inquiry" into the defendant's financial eligibility; (2) if so, was the court correct in its ultimate conclusion of financial eligibility; and (3) if the defendant was eligible, did the court properly weigh the interests of justice? Appellant was represented at his change of plea by retained counsel. At that time the court did not advise appellant of his right to be represented by counsel at every stage of the proceeding, and including…

View Full Summary
Name: Gressett v. Superior Court
Case #: A127100
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 05/28/2010

An indigent defendant's preference for a particular attorney is not a determinative factor requiring the appointment of that attorney and appointment of counsel is within the discretion of the trial court. Petitioner, a former senior deputy district attorney, was charged with raping a deputy district attorney. Petitioner retained attorney Russo for ten months from the filing of the complaint until filing of the indictment, but then became indigent and requested the court appoint Russo to represent him. Instead, the court appointed a retired Contra Costa County Chief Assistant Public Defender who was on the conflicts panel. Petitioner filed…

View Full Summary