Request for Substitution of a Defence Lawyer In California

In People v. Lewis (1978) 20 Cal.3d 496, the defendant stated: "I 'would like to state that I am not satisfied with defense counsel's services. I would also request that he be removed from handling my case and that a state appointed attorney would be appointed to represent me in this matter. He is not handling my case in the manner which I feel will vindicate my innocence. . . .'" (Id. at pp. 497-498.) With no further discussion, the court said it was denying the defendant's Marsden motion (Marsden motion for new counsel (People v. Marsden (1970) 2 Cal.3d 118) after noting that it was very aware of the defense counsel's competence and abilities. When the defendant stated that defense counsel was "'not handling his case,'" the court responded, "'He may not be handling it in the way you wish it to be handled, . . . but he is handling the case in the manner in which he feels the case should be handled as far as the law is concerned.'" (Id. at p. 498.) Twice thereafter, the court cut the defendant off when he tried to explain his motion to relieve defense counsel. the Supreme Court found the trial court's conduct violated Marsden because the defendant was not given an opportunity to establish the incompetence of defense counsel. (Id. at pp. 498-499.) In Lewis, the court expressly cut the defendant off when he tried to explain his reasons for requesting substitute counsel.