California Landmark Cases Addressing Substitution of Lawyer

A defendant is entitled to the substitution of counsel if the record clearly shows the defendant is being denied adequate assistance of counsel or the defendant and counsel "'"'have become embroiled in such an irreconcilable conflict that ineffective representation is likely to result.'"'" (People v. Barnett (1998) 17 Cal.4th 1044, 1085.) A trial court must afford a defendant an opportunity to explain and provide specific instances of inadequate performance when the defendant seeks substitution of appointed counsel. (Ibid.) "Thereafter, substitution is a matter of judicial discretion. Denial of the motion is not an abuse of discretion unless the defendant has shown that a failure to replace the appointed attorney would 'substantially impair' the defendant's right to assistance of counsel. " (People v. Webster (1991) 54 Cal.3d 411, 435.) The court should grant a motion for new counsel "only when the defendant demonstrates that counsel is truly providing inadequate representation or that a total breakdown in the relationship has occurred that the defendant did not cause." (People v. Smith (2003) 30 Cal.4th 581, 607.) The Court also held that the trials court's denial of a Marsden motion will not be disturbed on appeal unless the court abused its discretion. (People v. Barnett, supra, 17 Cal.4th at p. 1085.) The trial court does not abuse its discretion in denying such a motion unless the defendant shows that failure to substitute counsel would substantially impair the defendant's right to assistance of counsel. (Ibid.)