What Is a Marsden Hearing ?

A Marsden hearing is an informal proceeding "in which the court ascertains the nature of the defendant's allegations regarding the defects in counsel's representation and decides whether the allegations have sufficient substance to warrant counsel's replacement." (People v. Gutierrez (2009) 45 Cal.4th 789, 803.) A trial court fulfills its inquiry obligation if it gives the defendant an opportunity to state all of his or her complaints and listens to the complaints. (People v. Vera (2004) 122 Cal.App.4th 970, 979; People v. Williamson (1985) 172 Cal.App.3d 737, 745; People v. Penrod (1980) 112 Cal.App.3d 738, 745.) The California Supreme Court has explained: "'"'"When a defendant seeks to discharge his appointed counsel and substitute another attorney, and asserts inadequate representation, the trial court must permit the defendant to explain the basis of his contention and to relate specific instances of the attorney's inadequate performance. A defendant is entitled to relief if the record clearly shows that the first appointed attorney is not providing adequate representation or that defendant and counsel have become embroiled in such an irreconcilable conflict that ineffective representation is likely to result.'" The decision whether to grant a requested substitution is within the discretion of the trial court; appellate courts will not find an abuse of that discretion unless the failure to remove appointed counsel and appoint replacement counsel would 'substantially impair' the defendant's right to effective assistance of counsel."'" (People v. Vines (2011) 51 Cal.4th 830, 878.)