Request for Approval of Substitution of Attorney Cases In California

In People v. Marsden (1970) 2 Cal.3d 118, 84 Cal. Rptr. 156, the Supreme Court held that a trial court may not deny a request for substitution of attorneys without giving the defendant the opportunity to explain his reasons through presentation of argument and evidence. (Marsden, supra, 2 Cal.3d at p. 124.) However, "a defendant does not have the right to the appointment of new counsel absent a clear showing of inadequate representation." ( People v. Silva (1988) 45 Cal.3d 604, 622, 247 Cal. Rptr. 573, 754 P.2d 1070.) "All Marsden held was that a defendant is denied a fair trial when the trial court refuses to hear enumerated specific examples of inadequate representation." ( People v. Huffman (1977) 71 Cal. App. 3d 63, 77, 139 Cal. Rptr. 264.) Further, "the decision whether to permit a defendant to discharge his appointed counsel and substitute another attorney during the trial is within the discretion of the trial court, and a defendant has no absolute right to more than one appointed attorney." (Marsden, at p. 123; accord, Silva, at p. 622.) In sum, "once the defendant is afforded an opportunity to state the reasons for discharging an appointed attorney, the decision to allow a substitution of attorney is within the discretion of the trial judge unless defendant has made a substantial showing that failure to order substitution is likely to result in constitutionally inadequate representation." ( People v. Crandell (1988) 46 Cal.3d 833, 859, 251 Cal. Rptr. 227, 760 P.2d 423.)