California Public Defender Contempt of Court

In Hughes v. Superior Court (1980) 106 Cal.App.3d 1, a public defender was found in contempt of court for refusing to proceed to trial. The public defender, who had been assigned to two complex cases that were scheduled for trial at the same time, had been told that all else being equal, the older of the two would go to trial first. As a result, he prepared for the other case. The trial court found there was insufficient reason or excuse for the public defender's refusal. (Id. at p. 5.) A writ of prohibition was issued on the ground the defendant's constitutional right to adequate representation at trial would have been violated had the public defender proceeded to trial unprepared. (Ibid.)