Disruption of the Orderly Processes of Justice In California

In People v. Lara (2001) 86 Cal.App.4th 139, the court discusses at length what does and does not constitute a "'"disruption of the orderly processes of justice unreasonable under the circumstances of the particular case." (Id. at p. 155.) There is no such disruption where the defendant brings his difficulties with counsel to the court's attention at the first superior court hearing following arraignment, makes a request to substitute counsel two weeks before trial, the prosecution witnesses are law enforcement officers and there is no evidence a continuance would prevent their appearance, and nothing points to the defendant's desire to delay trial. (Id. at pp. 159-160) The same is true where a request to substitute counsel is made after declaration of a mistrial and well before commencement of the second trial. (Lara, supra, at p. 161) In contrast, when a defendant requests substitution of counsel at "'literally the moment jury selection is to begin,'" a codefendant has announced ready to proceed and the court is satisfied that defense counsel is ready and able to defend vigorously and competently, the disruption necessitated by substituting counsel is unreasonable under the circumstances at hand. ( People v. Lara, supra, 86 Cal.App.4th at p. 160) Similarly, where the request is made on the first day of trial, thus necessitating disruption, and the defendant cannot explain his dissatisfaction with present counsel in any adequate manner, thus suggesting his true motivation is to delay the trial, the disruption again is unreasonable under the circumstances at hand. (Lara, supra, at p. 161)