Martinez v. Court of Appeal of Cal., Fourth Appellate Dist., 528 U.S. 152 (2000)

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certiorari to the supreme court of california

No. 98-7809. Argued November 9, 1999—Decided January 12, 2000

Accused of converting a client's money to his own use while employed as a paralegal, petitioner Martinez was charged by California with grand theft and the fraudulent appropriation of another's property. He chose to represent himself at trial before a jury, which acquitted him of theft but convicted him of embezzlement. He then filed a timely notice of appeal, a motion to represent himself, and a waiver of counsel. The California Court of Appeal denied his motion to represent himself based on its prior holding that there is no constitutional right to self-representation on direct appeal under Faretta v. California, 422 U. S. 806, in which this Court held that a criminal defendant has a constitutional right to conduct his own defense at trial when he voluntarily and intelligently elects to proceed without counsel, id., at 807, 836. The state court had explained that the right to counsel on appeal stems from the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, not from the Sixth Amendment on which Faretta was based, and held that the denial of self-representation at this level does not violate due process or equal protection. The California Supreme Court denied Martinez' application for a writ of mandate.

Held: Neither Faretta's holding nor its reasoning requires a State to recognize a constitutional right to self-representation on direct appeal from a criminal conviction. Although some of Faretta's reasoning is applicable to appellate proceedings as well as to trials, there are significant distinctions. First, the historical evidence Faretta relied on as identifying a right of self-representation, 422 U. S., at 812-817, is not useful here because it pertained to times when lawyers were scarce, often mistrusted, and not readily available to the average person accused of crime, whereas it has since been recognized that every indigent defendant in a criminal trial has a constitutional right to the assistance of appointed counsel, see Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U. S. 335. Moreover, unlike the right recognized in Faretta, the historical evidence does not provide any support for an affirmative constitutional right to appellate self-representation. Second, Faretta's reliance on the Sixth Amend-ment's structure interpreted in light of its English and colonial background, 422 U. S., at 818-832, is not relevant here. Because the Amend-

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